(Toronto) As shareholders assess the past year’s operations at Barrick Gold’s Annual General Meeting, victims of ongoing human rights abuses at the Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea and the North Mara mine in Tanzania demand that Barrick do more to halt violence by mine security and police at these mines, and ensure equitable remedy for all victims of mine-related human rights abuses.
The past year was, once again, not a good one for villagers surrounding the Porgera Joint Venture mine in Papua New Guinea. For example, in March 2017, Barrick confirmed allegations that, once again, numerous houses were burnt down in the village of Wangima, adjacent to the open pit, by heavily armed police forces that are housed, clothed, fed, and paid by the mine. In July, a dump of chemical waste material caused burns to the skin of some 150 men, women and children exposed to the caustic material. And in October, 15 year old Boi Nelson Nai, was run over and killed by one of the mine’s loader trucks.
Upon visiting the mine in December of 2017, MiningWatch Canada’s Catherine Coumans found that none of the victims of these serious mine-related harms, or their families, had received compensation. “Barrick seems to think it is enough to hand out medicine to the burn victims, and pay for the funeral of the teenage boy,” says Coumans, “But these essentially humanitarian gestures do not constitute equitable compensation for the very serious harm done to the victims and their families.” Furthermore, as Coumans notes, “There is something very cavalier about handing out antibiotics, with specific use instructions on them, to chemical burn victims who cannot read and then leaving them to their own devices.”
Cressida Kuala, who travelled from Porgera to Canada to attend Barrick’s AGM, expresses the anger of many women who have been raped and gang raped by mine security and police guarding the mine. “A hundred and nineteen rape victims have taken their complaints to the UN,” says Ms. Kuala. “They are deeply dissatisfied with the remedy Barrick has given them, and many more women who have been raped by mine security and police guarding the mine have not yet received any remedy.”
In Tanzania it has also been another brutal year for the indigenous Kuria villagers who surround Barrick’s North Mara gold mine. Coumans visited the villages in June 2017 for the fourth time to continue documenting cases of victims of violence by mine security and police who guard the mine. While there, she also learned that at least four men had drowned in a mined-out pit after the mine had removed a barrier wall. All four men were fished from the pit lake by mine personnel, but no effort was made by the mine to replace the barrier. It was also apparent that food insecurity was even worse than in previous years with starvation a serious concern in the villages. And in spite of growing international scrutiny, violence by mine security and police remains a concern as yet another villager was shot and killed at the mine on August 4th.
In January, Barrick’s subsidiary Acacia Mining released a new operating procedure for the North Mara mine’s grievance mechanism after years of criticism by villagers, MiningWatch and others that the mine’s grievance mechanism was not providing fair reparations for those the mine has harmed. MiningWatch has reviewed the new grievance procedure and found it to lack independence and not to afford commonly indigent and illiterate victims of the North Mara mine a fair process by which to have their complaints addressed.
For more information and for images contact:
- Cressida Kuala, Porgera Red Wara Women’s Association (in Canada): (647) 989-7468
- Catherine Coumans, MiningWatch Canada: [email protected]
For documentation see:
- MiningWatch’s review of Barrick/Acacia’s new grievance procedure for the North Mara mine in Tanzania
- House burnings at Barrick’s Porgera Joint Venture mine in Papua New Guinea
- Chemical spill that burned more than 150 people at the Porgera Joint Venture mine
- Death of 15 year old Boi Nelson Nai
- Video by rape victims at the Porgera mine that was shown at the UN
- Report of 2017 field visit