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Letter to the Editor of the National Post, November 4, 2002 — full text

Jamie Kneen Communications and Outreach Coordinator responsible for: strategic research, social media, and public engagement; our Africa program, environmental assessment, and uranium mining.

Dear Sirs:

The article Mining for Trouble: Tanzanian Gold Fields, Nov 2/02, written by Brian Hutchinson, gravely misrepresents the position of MiningWatch Canada in regard to the forced relocation of small scale miners in Tanzania in the first weeks of August 1996. we want to set the record straight.

Our position is and has always been, to demand a full scale independent international investigation into the forced removal and possible deaths of small scale miners at Bulyanhulu in August 1996. We have never said that "a calculated act of murder took place at the Bulyanhulu deposit, nor that "Canadian mining executives from Barrick Gold were responsible for it," although we did provide an opportunity for the Lawyers Environmental Action Team to make their allegations public in September 2001.

We have said that there is substantial evidence that some miners had been buried alive during the mine clearing operations. But the only specific reference to deaths we have publicly made was those of the two sons of Melania Baesi, Evidence for these deaths includes the sworn testimony of their mother, and recorded interviews with her in front of witnesses by the NGO investigators in Geita last March.

We have consistently acknowledged that Barrick did not have ownership of the mine until 1999, three years after the clearances.

The World Bank Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) was asked to investigate the relocation of the small scale miners and their entitlement to compensation, and to determine if World Bank rules were followed in granting political risk insurance to the company. They were not asked to investigate the allegations of deaths, and, in fact, the summary report states: "The CAO did not undertake a full-scale inquiry, nor did it engage in the techniques of human rights investigation which would be necessary to try and prove or disprove many of the allegations repeated in the complaint, such as the exhumation of closed mines shafts for example." On the grounds in the complaint that was actually filed, the CAO found that the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) did not exercise due diligence, and relied instead on informal assurances from Barrick Gold.

The NGO investigative team that traveled to Tanzania in March 2002, went with the intentions of talking with villagers and small scale miners to find out more about the case. Their visas were completely in order. The police roadblock prevented them from collecting first-hand accounts, except from fifteen small scale miners who came to meet them on the other side of the roadblock. Contrary to innuendo made by Mr. Hutchinson, it was entirely accidental that the team was there when the CAO investigation was taking place.

We re-iterate our demand for an independent international investigation of the forced relocation and alleged deaths.

Joan Kuyek, National Co-ordinator
MiningWatch Canada