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Lawsuit

30 Jul 2013

Author:
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

African Barrick Gold lawsuit (re Tanzania)

Status: ONGOING

Incident date
July 30, 2013
Unknown
Location of Filing: United Kingdom
Location of Incident: Tanzania
Type of Litigation: Transnational

Companies

Sources

Snapshot: A group of 12 Tanzanians filed a lawsuit in the UK High Court alleging that North Mara Gold Mine Ltd used local police as security forces to threaten and shoot at local residents using tear gas and live ammunition. They further alleged the mine is controlled by Acacia Mining, who failed to prevent the use of excessive force. The companies denied the allegations. In 2015, the companies reached an out of court settlement with the claimants.

Factual Background

In 2008, an incident involving the use of excessive force by police and security at North Mara Gold Mine resulted in the deaths of six villagers.

Legal Argument

On 30 July 2013, a group of 12 Tanzanians filed a lawsuit in the UK High Court against Acacia Mining (formerly known as African Barrick Gold) and its subsidiary, North Mara Gold Mine Ltd. Acacia Mining is a subsidiary of Canada-based Barrick Gold, one of the world’s largest gold mining companies.

The claimants allege that the companies are complicit in the killings and injuries of villagers by police at the North Mara Mine in Tanzania. The claimants alleged that the police are an integral part of the mine’s security and that they shot at the villagers using tear gas and live ammunition.  The claimants further alleged that the mine and North Mara Gold Mine Ltd are controlled by Acacia Mining and that Acacia Mining failed to prevent the use of excessive force by security and police at the mine. The companies denied the allegations.

Legal Proceedings

On 30 July 2013 a group of 12 Tanzanians filed a lawsuit in UK High Court against African Barrick Gold and North Mara Gold Mine Limited (NMGML).

In July 2013, after the UK legal proceedings had been initiated, African Barrick Gold's subsidiary NMGML initiated legal proceedings in Tanzania asking a local court to declare that the company could not be held liable for the actions of the police.  After learning of the Tanzanian legal proceeding, the plaintiffs sought and obtained an injunction from the UK court barring the defendants from initiating legal action in Tanzania on matters being litigated before the UK court.  This injunction was upheld in December 2013.

In November 2014, Leigh Day, the law firm representing the Tanzanian villagers in their UK claim, stated that the claimants intend to obtain orders from the court requiring African Barrick Gold to disclose internal documents and to take further steps in proceeding to trial.

Early in 2015, African Barrick Gold (now Acacia) and and its subsidiary NMGML reached an out of court settlement with the claimants.

However, the North Mara Gold Mine continues to be plagued by reports of serious human rights abuses against members of the local community by security forces. For example, MiningWatch Canada and RAID documented 22 killings and 69 injuries at or near the mine between 2014 and 2016, while a 2016 Tanzanian parliamentary inquiry received reports of 65 killed and 270 injured by police jointly responsible for mine security.

Latest Legal News

In Feb 2020, 7 Tanzanians filed a new lawsuit at the UK High Court against Barrick Tz Limited (formerly known as Acacia Mining) alleging serious abuses by security forces, including local police, employed at Barrick’s North Mara gold mine. On 14 August 2020, 3 more Tanzanian victims joined the legal suit.

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