“He was murdered”: Violence against Kuria High after Barrick Takeover of Mine

This report presents findings from research undertaken by MiningWatch Canada in North Mara, Tanzania, in September 2022. The issues addressed in this report have all occurred since Barrick’s September 2019 takeover of mine ownership and under Barrick’s CEO Mark Bristow. Findings are based on information provided by, among others, elected officials, community leaders, victims of violence by police who receive direct financial and other benefits from the mine (mine police), and family members of those who have perished as a result of excess use of force by mine police, as well as information provided by victims of violent and inequitable forced evictions, the legality of which is questionable.

The current impacts of the North Mara Gold Mine on the Kuria people surrounding the mine, including particularly high levels of violence by mine police and by officials and Field Force Unit police involved in forced evictions, are reflected against findings from MiningWatch’s previous six field visits to the area from 2014 to 2019.

Prior to September 2019, Barrick Gold Corp. (Barrick) held 63.9% of shares in U.K.-based Acacia Mining plc. (Acacia). Acacia, in turn, was 100% owner of the North Mara Gold Mine. In September 2019 Barrick purchased the shares of minority shareholders in Acacia in a $1.2bn buy-out. In October 2019, an agreement was struck with the Government of Tanzania aimed at addressing a number of conflicts including a serious and ongoing tax dispute. As part of this agreement the Government of Tanzania acquired a 16% free carried shareholding in the mine.

Barrick has management control over Barrick-North Mara. Against a historical context of pervasive high levels of violence by private mine security and by mine police against local Kuria people, our field research concludes that excess use of lethal force since Barrick’s takeover from Acacia has been particularly high. Simultaneously, access to justice and remedy for victims of mine-related violence and other human rights abuses has
become further constrained, and victims are expressing greater hesitation about speaking out about the abuses they suffer as they face a very real threat of further violence by mine police as a consequence. These issues are discussed in this report in the context of:

  • Continuity and change in security arrangements at the mine P. 5
  • Violent forced evictions for mine expansion of questionable legality P. 12
  • Breakdown of the mine’s ineffective and inequitable grievance mechanism P. 20
  • Greater alignment of local public institutions and officials with mine interests P. 21