Barrick subsidiaries settle UK legal claims alleging deaths and injuries at Tanzania gold mine

Legal claims by North Mara residents for alleged harm caused by Tanzanian police engaged for security at the mine reach settlement out of court

“The Tanzanian claimants in this case have shown considerable resolve in their pursuit of justice and redress, especially when they were up against a gold mining giant with infinitely greater resources to fight legal battles. We welcome any settlement that brings relief to the claimants after so many years.”

Anneke Van Woudenberg, Executive Director at corporate watchdog, RAID

A UK legal action against Barrick Gold’s subsidiaries alleging killings and injuries of local residents by police engaged for security operations at the Canadian mining giant’s North Mara gold mine in Tanzania has been settled out of court. Barrick, announcing the settlement on its website yesterday, stated that there was no admission of liability on the part of its subsidiaries. No details about the content of the settlement were provided.

Fourteen Tanzanian citizens made claims against Barrick’s UK subsidiary, Acacia Mining (now known as Barrick TZ Limited) for alleged human rights incidents between 2014 and September 2019. Both Barrick TZ and North Mara Gold Mine Limited, the Tanzanian subsidiary, were defendants.

The claimants alleged that Barrick’s subsidiaries were legally responsible for deaths and injuries caused by the Tanzania police during security operations on or around the mine. The mine had a memorandum of understanding with the police for security under which it paid, housed and equipped the police. The defendants denied the allegations.

In February 2020, it was reported that Barrick wanted the claims heard in the UK courts rather than settle them. In September 2023, a Barrick spokesperson described the claims as without merit, continuing “[we] look forward to having the opportunity for the London courts to finally adjudicate this matter and put it to rest”. The company’s decision to settle now comes over four years after the proceedings were brought forward in the UK.

RAID has repeatedly raised concerns about human rights violations at the North Mara mine. In November 2022, RAID published findings showing the reported death toll at the North Mara mine had risen to at least 77, along with 304 wounded, by police responsible for mine security, most of which occurred after Barrick acquired the mine in 2006. As RAID has documented, the rising number of killings and injuries ranks Barrick’s North Mara mine as one of the deadliest industrial mines in Africa in terms of security-related violence.

According to Barrick’s statements on security incidents at the mine, an additional seven people have died since December 2022.

Other legal cases: 

This is the second settlement arising from claims in the UK alleging killings and injuries of Tanzanian residents by security forces at the North Mara mine. The first was agreed by Acacia in 2015.

Two further legal actions alleging killings and injuries by security forces at Barrick’s North Mara mine were initiated in 2022. One was commenced in a Canadian court against Barrick in November 2022 by 21 Tanzanian nationals alleging serious human rights violations after Barrick assumed operational control of the mine from Acacia in September 2019. Barrick says the allegations at the heart of the claim are meritless. The case is ongoing.

The other legal action was initiated in the UK in December 2022 against the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA), which has oversight of the London gold market. It alleges that the LBMA is liable in respect of the deaths of two artisanal miners at the mine in July and December 2019 because it certifies gold from the mine as responsibly sourced and free from serious human rights abuses. The LBMA says the claim has no merit. The case is also ongoing.