Tanzania: Victims of North Mara Gold Mine Violence Find No Justice in New Compensation Scheme

(Ottawa) Grievous violence continues to be inflicted on local men and women by private mine security and police guarding Barrick Gold’s North Mara gold mine in northwestern Tanzania. There have been no criminal prosecutions, and the grievance process set up by the company to provide compensation to the victims is deeply inadequate, finds a new report.

MiningWatch Canada has conducted field investigations at the North Mara Gold Mine for the past four years and has reported on years of vicious attacks on hundreds of local men and women by private mine security and police guarding the mine. Local residents, called “intruders” by the company, regularly enter the mine site to scavenge for gold in the mine’s waste rock piles.

The violence has not ended, but last year, with public pressure mounting locally and internationally, the mine started to implement a new grievance mechanism to process local Kuria villagers who have been harmed, and family members of those who have been killed.

“Our field work this month has provided consistent evidence that villagers being processed through the new grievance mechanism are greatly disadvantaged by it,” says Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada.

“Lack of adequate prior information about the process, lack of expert or legal support, inability to read documents produced by the mine regarding the impact they have suffered and the remedy the mine feels they deserve, if any, and lack of time and resources to find help in reviewing these documents are but some of the ways the mine’s process is deepening the harm suffered by these unfortunate villagers.”

It is unsurprising that not one of the fourteen victims interviewed in depth by MiningWatch was comfortable with the process they had endured, were still engaged in, or were contemplating, and the “remedies” offered were a further source of dismay.

MiningWatch has critiqued the manual for the complex new grievance mechanism, pointing out in particular its essential lack of independence from the mine, and the extraordinary power imbalance that remains unaddressed between largely illiterate villagers and the mine’s legal and investigative team that implements the system.

Contact: Catherine Coumans: [email protected]

See the brief: Inequality of Arms for a review of flaws of the mine’s remedy program based on MiningWatch’s field assessment in August 2018.