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Tanzania: Report alleges pollution, rape, killings & injuries at Acacia's subsidiary; includes company's response & RAID's rejoinder

 An  investigation by the Guardian and its partners in the Forbidden Stories journalism allege that violence on the community sorrounding Acacia's North Mara Gold Mine perpetrators by security agents linked to the company has been going on. It further alleges that health problems associated with possible chemical pollution from the mine remain a concern. Acacia has said its guards did not use lethal weapons and it dealt with human rights abuses by other parties, such as the police, through its grievance mechanism. In relation to pollution, it says that nobody had been contaminated because of the mine. Electronics companies, including Canon, Apple and Nokia, say they are re-evaluating their supply chains following reports they may be using gold extracted from a mine criticised for environmental failures.

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22 July 2019

RAID's rejoinder to Acacia's press release

Author: Rights & Accountability in Development (UK)

"RAID Response to Acacia Mining’s press release", 18 July 2019

On 26 June 2019, Acacia Mining Plc issued a press release in response to articles published by the Guardian and other Forbidden Stories journalists on the human rights situation at Acacia’s North Mara gold mine in Tanzania. Acacia asserts that these articles are ‘misleading’ which it partly attributes to publications by RAID. We take this opportunity to address Acacia’s inaccurate response...

Claim 1 – Acacia says the articles concern ‘historical’ allegations, ‘focus[ing] primarily on events in 2011’ or earlier. - Not true. The articles do not concern ‘historical’ incidents. They refer, for example, to 22 killings documented by RAID and MiningWatch Canada at or near the mine in security operations between 2014 and 2016. More recent incidents are also referenced, including the killing of a man on the mine site in 2017 and the shooting of a student in 2018. Incidents within the past five years can certainly not be defined as ‘historical...

Claim 2 – Acacia says it is ‘not accurate to portray the Mine as a place of ongoing violent confrontation and death’, as there are ‘few’ interactions between police/mine personnel and ‘intruders’ or new allegations of excessive force. Not true. Acacia’s claim is contradicted not just by the recent incidents mentioned above, but also by the company’s own statements. For example, on 13 June 2019, less than two weeks prior to Acacia’s press release, the General Manager of the North Mara Mine wrote to RAID referring to a ‘violent invasion’ at the mine site on 31 May 2019 and to the discharge of smoke canisters and ‘other such cartridges’ by security personnel...

Claim 3 – Acacia says the Mine has taken steps to support respect for human rights. Acacia has provided limited evidence to support its claim. Acacia says that North Mara Gold Mine Ltd, has taken ‘many steps’ in its ‘commitment to meet the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs) and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’. Yet neither the North Mara mine nor Acacia is a participant in the VPs.

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17 July 2019

Acacia's response to Forbidden Stories Articles

Author: Acacia Mining

"Response to Forbidden Stories Articles", 26 June 2019

...the Guardian in London and the international Forbidden Stories collective published a number of articles on Acacia’s North Mara mine (“the Mine”) in which they repeated allegations about the Mine relating to human rights and the environment. Acacia was asked to comment for some of the articles and did so, refuting several claims and explaining the factual background and context with respect to others. As Acacia’s comments were only partially reflected in the articles, and the articles were misleading in their portrayal of the Mine, the company would like to clarify the current situation at North Mara in relation to a number of these allegations...

The articles concerning the security and human rights situation at North Mara repeat historical allegations about incidents involving the Tanzanian police and the Mine’s security personnel and their engagement with illegal trespassers at the Mine. The articles focus primarily on events in 2011, but also discuss events of 20 years ago. They portray the past as the present, and present allegations as substantiated facts. Largely ignored is the current situation at the Mine, where there are fewer illegal intrusions, few interactions between police and the Mine’s security personnel on the one hand and intruders on the other, few new allegations of excessive force being employed, and a relationship between the Mine and its local communities which, while complex and challenging, like that of any Mine-community relationship, is largely positive and recognised by the community as improving...

Acacia and the Mine were concerned to read for the first time the allegations regarding incidents of intimidation, harassment and threats against journalists in relation to media coverage about the Mine. The Company and the Mine would like to make it clear that previously we have not been aware of those or other such allegations, and could never support any actions which infringed human rights or breached applicable local or international laws.

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20 June 2019

Tanzania: Report alleges rape, killings & injuries at Acacia's subsidiary; includes company's denial & tech. firms' comments

Author: The Guardian

"Murder, rape and claims of contamination at a Tanzanian goldmine"

Welcome to North Mara, one of the biggest mines in Tanzania, which since 2006 has been operated by London-listed Acacia Mining and predominantly owned by the world’s biggest goldmining company, Barrick, a Toronto-based firm that holds a 63.9% stake. For the past two decades, this mine has been a place of danger, extreme violence and allegations of environmental contamination. Although Tanzania is nominally at peace, over the years police and security guards have been accused of killing dozens – possibly hundreds – of local people, injuring many more and raping countless women. There have also been reports of contamination from mining chemicals, but journalists and human rights activists who have tried to investigate these cases have sometimes found themselves the subject of intimidation, harassment and even threats of deportation from police and state authorities...

In a detailed reply to questions raised by the Guardian, Acacia said it took allegations seriously and would assess claims through its grievance systems. Even before the government’s order, the company said, it was looking into the construction of a new tailings dam. It warns that the dispute threatens the economic future of the Tanzanian people. “As a company, we are and always have been committed to acting responsibly towards the people of Tanzania, their environment and their communities,” reads a statement on the company’s homepage.

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20 June 2019

Tech firms to check suppliers after mining revelations in Tanzania

Author: Jonathan Watts, The Guardian

"Tech firms to check suppliers after mining revelations in Tanzania"

Electronics companies, including Canon, Apple and Nokia, are re-evaluating their supply chains following reports they may be using gold extracted from a Tanzanian mine that has been criticised for environmental failures...Nokia and Canon said they would review their supply chains in the light of findings from the Green Blood investigation by the Guardian in collaboration with a collective of journalists led by Forbidden Stories. Apple said it was “deeply committed to the responsible sourcing of materials that go into its products”...

Contacted by Forbidden Stories, several of these companies said they would review their supply chains. Nokia said it would contact the refinery and industry regulators. “Based on allegations we have also directly reached out to MMTC-PAMP and are awaiting a response. We will follow up on information received, to determine further action, and if allegations are confirmed, this smelter will be red-flagged and we will ask our supply chain to divert business from this smelter.”

Canon echoed other companies in noting that the MMTC-PAMP smelter had passed the conflict minerals audit conducted by the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI). “We are not aware of any relationship between human rights abuse mining in Tanzania and MMTC-PAMP India. We will carefully review your report after it is published and then consult with the RMI (of which Canon is a member) to take appropriate steps as necessary,” a spokesman said. Apple said: “If a refiner is unable or unwilling to meet our standards, they will be removed from our supply chain.” The US company said it had stopped working with 60 refiners and would continue investigating and holding supply chains to the highest standards.

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