Tag Archives: Barrick Gold

Tanzanian Victims Commence Legal Action against Barrick Gold in UK


RAID / MiningWatch Canada | 10 February 2020

A group of seven Tanzanian human rights victims launched a legal claim at the British High Court against subsidiaries of Canada-based Barrick Gold, one of the world’s largest gold mining companies, alleging serious abuses by security forces, including local police, employed at Barrick’s North Mara gold mine.

The claim was issued against Barrick Tz Limited, formerly known as Acacia Mining, of which Barrick was the majority shareholder. Majority-owned subsidiaries of Barrick operated the troubled Tanzanian gold mine from 2010 until 2019. In 2019 Barrick bought out the minority shareholders of Acacia, delisted the company from the London and Dar es Salaam Stock Exchanges, and took it back under its control.

The group of claimants, who brought their case forward last Friday, reside in communities around the mine. The group includes the father of a nine-year-old girl run over and killed by a mine vehicle, driven without due care, on 19 July 2018. The young girl’s stepmother and other women who had gathered around the body, and whose claims were also issued, say they were injured when security personnel and/or police fired on them without warning. The claimants further include a 16-year-old youth who says he was shot in the back and then beaten by the police employed by the mine, and a man who says he was seriously assaulted by the police on the mine site.

The group of victims was assisted by RAID, a UK-based corporate watchdog, and MiningWatch Canada, which have both documented human rights abuses at the North Mara mine through repeated research visits beginning in 2014. The claimants are represented by British law firm Hugh James.

“This group of victims represents just a fraction of those who have suffered abuse at the North Mara mine, but the filing of their legal claims in a British court brings hope of justice,” said Anneke Van Woudenberg, Executive Director of RAID. “Barrick Gold should use this as a wake-up call to address the human rights situation at the mine, rein in the security forces, and ensure that those who have suffered obtain remedy.”

The North Mara gold mine, located in a remote part of northern Tanzania, has been plagued by reports of serious human rights abuses against local community members by security forces since it was acquired by Barrick in 2006. This is the second British lawsuit against Barrick’s subsidiaries for deaths and injuries at the North Mara mine. The first, commenced in 2013, was settled in 2015 by Acacia Mining. The mine’s engagement of the local police, which it pays, equips, and accommodates to provide security in and around the mine site is central to the problem. The mine continues to employ the police despite a pattern of excessive use of force over many years against local residents on and off the mine site.

MiningWatch Canada and RAID documented 22 killings and 69 injuries at or near the mine from 2014 to 2016 alone, while a 2016 Tanzanian parliamentary inquiry received reports of 65 killed and 270 injured by police jointly responsible for mine security. From 2014 to 2017, Acacia itself acknowledged 6 deaths relating to the use of force against ‘intruders’ and/or police involvement and 28 other ‘intruder fatalities’, which it attributed to ‘fall from height’, ‘infighting’, ‘drowning’, ‘rockfall’, ‘vehicle accident’, and ‘other’. RAID has sought further information on these deaths, but none has been provided. Despite widespread attention and calls for reform at the mine, the abuses have continued. To MiningWatch and RAID’s knowledge, not a single police officer has been held to account.

At last week’s Mining Indaba in South Africa, Barrick’s CEO Mark Bristow acknowledged that Acacia Mining, Barrick’s subsidiary which operated the North Mara mine till 2019, had been “irresponsibly-run” and “not properly managed.”

“Barrick’s approach to security at the mine has not changed in ways that would make a significant difference, for example by no longer employing police in securing the mine, since the company transitioned from a majority holding and chairmanship of the Acacia Mining board to full ownership.” said Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch.

“MiningWatch Canada continues to document new claims of human rights abuses by mine security at the North Mara Mine and to engage Barrick on the ongoing violence, including at the annual shareholder meetings.”

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The Horse Breeder, the Novelist and the $60 Billion Panguna Mine

Panguna. RNZ/Johnny Blades.

Aaron Clark | Bloomberg News | January 27, 2020

John Kuhns has been many things: an investment banker, a silicon smelter operator in China and a novelist. His sights are now set on an abandoned mine with an estimated $60 billion of gold and copper.

Kuhns is among a handful of people exploring for minerals and courting landowners on the Pacific island of Bougainville. His rivals include an Arabian-horse breeder, a hedge fund investment manager who keeps wallabies on his estate and a former Australian defense minister.

The involvement of such an eclectic mix of entrepreneurs is a reflection of the fact that this is no ordinary mineral reserve. Rio Tinto Group operated the Paguna mine for 17 years through subsidiary Bougainville Copper Ltd. The global mining behemoth shut it in 1989 as local protests over mine revenue degenerated into a civil war that killed as many as 20,000 people.

The mine has been in limbo ever since. But that may be about to change as the Autonomous Region of Bougainville moves toward independence from Papua New Guinea after a referendum showed an overwhelming majority of the population on the small group of islands wants to establish a new nation.

While the political uncertainty may deter major mining companies from making an immediate investment, the mine’s riches attract entrepreneurs hoping to develop the asset to a point where they can deliver it to a big operator for a fee, said Peter O’Connor, a Sydney-based analyst at Shaw and Partners Ltd. “They have to create a story with a vision,” he said.

Success will depend on earning the trust of thousands of poor, customary landholders, many of whom remember the civil war that was triggered by communities demanding greater compensation from the mine.

“The landowners want to reopen the mine but they are divided by the interested developers,” said Sam Akoitai, a member of the island’s parliament who represents central Bougainville, an area that includes Panguna. “It’s really up to the landowners to come together to understand that the land belongs to the clan and not to some individuals.”

Bougainville Copper, which is no longer associated with Rio, has estimated it would take seven to eight years and $5 billion to $6 billion to rebuild the mine and resume full operations. The company is blamed by many locals for contamination attributed to the mine.

“We retain strong levels of support among customary landowners within the project area,” Bougainville Copper said in a statement. “We have a trusted local team on the ground that continues to engage with project area communities.”

The Bougainville Mining Act 2015 strengthened landowner control and was designed to increase compensation to local communities and the island’s government from future mining to avoid a repeat of the bloodshed of the 1980s and 1990s. The government also decided not to renew Bougainville Copper’s exploration license, which the company is challenging in court.

In June 2019, Kuhns flew several landowners to the U.S. to meet potential investors, including representatives from Barrick Gold Corp. At the Harvard Club in Midtown Manhattan, where stuffed moose, bison and even an elephant head adorn the rooms, the landowners heard Kuhns deliver a PowerPoint presentation introducing potential investors to Bougainville.

Barrick declined to comment.

“Panguna mine can be rejuvenated and can be resuscitated for a couple of billion dollars,” said Kuhns in a follow up phone interview. “It’s going to take a major to do that.”

Among those also interested in Panguna is Jeff McGlinn, who made his fortune in mining and construction services through Western Australia-based NRW Holdings Ltd., which he co-founded. McGlinn, who resigned from NRW in 2010, is part of the glamorous world of Arabian horse breeding, mixing with models and celebrities at parties on the French Riviera and promoting luxury brands. He once gave an Arabian colt to Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli.

McGlinn’s roots in mining give him valuable experience for Panguna — one of NRW’s businesses was constructing dams that hold mining waste. He’s also linked to a recent effort by the island’s government to kick start development, when it created Bougainville Advance Mining. The government’s Executive Council proposed last year an amendment to the 2015 mining act that would give all available mining rights to the new company, in which McGlinn’s Caballus Mining would hold a stake.

That amendment drew criticism from landowners, as well as Bougainville Copper, the former mine operator, which says the proposal undermines its rights to mine Panguna. The bill was later shelved. A representative of Caballus said McGlinn was unavailable to comment.

Another interested party is Richard Hains, son of the Australian billionaire David Hains. Richard, famous for keeping wallabies on his Gloucestershire estate, has helped develop mines in some of the world’s most difficult places. He’s the largest shareholder of RTG Mining Inc., whose management team has financed, built and operated mines across Africa and Asia, including the Boroo gold mine in Mongolia.

“Some of the best opportunities in the mining business in the 21st century are now in the more difficult commercial environments,” Hains said in a phone interview.

RTG believes it can restart production at Panguna through a staged process in as little as 18 months for about $800 million.

“It’s far smarter to start with a smaller footprint,” said RTG Chairman Michael Carrick. “Then in consultation with the community, we can turn up the mine’s operation.”

RTG operates a joint venture with the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association, a Panguna landowners group. The JV employs 15 people, including Philip Miriori, the chairman of the landowners group.

There are bigger fish too. Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. said in an emailed statement it has sent representatives to Bougainville to learn about the region and potential opportunities, confirming earlier reports. Founder Andrew Forrest is Australia’s second-richest person with a $10.2 billion fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Shaw and Partners’ O’Connor said Chinese miners may also have a chance of redeveloping Panguna because they have a greater risk appetite and access to cheap financing.

But the Panguna landowners group Chairman Miriori said the people he represents aren’t interested in working with Chinese developers because of their poor environmental track record.

If anyone wins the right to develop Panguna or other parts of the autonomous region they will need to do so cautiously. Violence remains a constant threat in a community that is still fiercely divided.

A geologist working for Perth-based Kalia Ltd. was killed and seven others were injured in an attack in northern Bougainville in December, according to the local government and the company, whose chairman is former Australia Minister for Defence David Johnston. Authorities subsequently suspended Kalia’s exploration expeditions and geological field work.

There’s also a moratorium on work at Panguna because of sensitivity to restarting the mine, said Raymond Masono, Bougainville’s vice president and minister for mineral and energy resources.

“We are no longer talking with any investors about Panguna until the moratorium is lifted, and we don’t know when” that will be, he said by phone. “The government is treading very carefully on this particular mine.”

But prospects for restarting Panguna and allowing for the development of new mines are bolstered by the idea that Bougainville would need revenue to have any chance of financing an independent state. Many hope the mineral wealth could ultimately help reduce poverty for the region’s 300,000 people where estimated per capita GDP is only about $1,100.

That would depend not only on clearing the way to restart production, but a government able to make sure that enough of the proceeds are used to fund development. “Given the failure of mining in PNG to deliver really anything like sustainable development, those hopes may end up being disappointed,” said Luke Fletcher, executive director of Jubilee Australia, a group that has tracked the effect of resource extraction.

But the lure of riches mean miners aren’t likely to give up.

“Bougainville had almost no exploration for nearly 40 years,” said Mike Johnston, executive director of Kalia. “There’s no other place like it on the planet.”

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Papua New Guinea Gold mine to become a top tier mining asset while landowners’ rights ignored

Financial Post

The most basic needs and rights of Papua New Guinea landowners are being completely disregarded while a Canadian and Chinese consortium talks up the potential of an internationally significant gold mine ahead of a PNG Government decision on the mine’s lease renewal.

Porgera Gold mine in remote Enga Province of Papua New Guinea expired last year and consortium made up of Canada’s Barrick Gold Corp and China’s Zijin Mining wants their lease to be extended for another 20 years.

A majority group of landowners, the Justice Foundation for Porgera headed up by the PNG Resource Owners Chairman Jonathan Paraia believes Barrick has no intention to deliver on promises it’s making to reduce environmental destruction or stop practices that damage local lives.

“Barrick has had 20 years to adequately deliver on its promises to resettle landowners, provide housing, education, clean drinking water so how can we for a moment believe that it will start honouring promises made under new contracts,” he said

“How many more independent reports detailing environmental and human rights abuses need to be published before the mine is held to account,” he said.

Mr Paraia understands Barrick needs this lease to be renewed so it can conclude a deal with Chinese state-owned entity Zijin.

“If the lease is renewed Barrick will not see it out, it intends to divest its share to its Chinese partner or someone else,” he said.

In 2015 Barrick Niugini officials told Landowners to make an offer for 95% of shares in Porgera mine but we could only make an offer for 10% so there was no sale. Instead in 2017 it sold half its shares to Zijin. We believe its goal is to sell its remaining shares once the lease is renewed.

The Chairman of the Justice Foundation for Porgera is also extremely concerned about a 70 million kina (almost $20M US) donation made to the Enga Provincial Government last week by the Chinese Government.

“The extremely generous donation while a decision on the mine is imminent is highly suspicious at best, and deserves a high level of scrutiny,” he said.

Jonathan Paraia also wants Barrick and elements of the PNG Government to stop cherry-picking supportive minority landowners with conflicts of interest and listen to the vast majority who want Barrick out.

“In the last fortnight, as part of Prime Minister James Marape delegation to Enga, Minister Johnson Tuke, Minister Bryan Kramar and Mineral Resources Authority head Jerry Garry unofficially visited the mine site and met with Barrick employees and contractors who claimed to be landowner representatives.

“Two of the guests, in particular, Dick Pundi a director of Ipili Porgera Investments Ltd (IPI) and Maso Mangape an employee of IPI claim to represent the interests of Landowners when IPI is a major service provider to Barrick, so whose interests are they serving?” he said.

The Justice Foundation for Porgera is aware the Prime Minister is adamant to take over the Porgera Gold Mine but other representatives of government are acting against the interest of the Prime Minister.

“The people of Porgera and the Justice Foundation for Porgera know the Prime Minister James Marape is listening to the people and has the best interests of our country at heart.

“We stand behind the Prime Minister and support him to say Barrick out, it’s time Papua New Guineans profited from Papua New Guinea’s valuable resources,” Mr Paraia said.

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Barrick Gold forges ahead on Papua New Guinea mine in face of local backlash

Jeff Lewis and Melanie Burton | Reuters | January 15, 2020

Barrick Gold Corp is set to elevate its troubled Papua New Guinea mine to its top-tier assets, despite landowner and government demands to cede a larger stake and deteriorating security at the joint venture with China’s Zijin Mining

With a 20-year lease renewal application in the balance, Barrick has faced backlash from Papua New Guinea (PNG) landowners and residents. Critics say the Porgera mine has polluted the water supply and created other environmental and social problems, with minimal economic returns for locals.

Seven people have died at the Porgera mine since September, including three so-called illegal miners last month in clashes that prompted Barrick’s local entity to appeal for government intervention.

Barrick hopes to boost the mine’s production by 18% or more. This previously unreported outlook raises the stakes for Prime Minister James Marape’s government, which has been seeking richer terms from miners and oil and gas producers.

The head of the country’s mining regulator said Barrick, the world’s No. 2 gold miner, is waiting to begin serious negotiations for permit renewal terms with the country’s executive council, led by Marape.

“If we can renew the permit on a reasonable basis, it stands up as a tier one asset,” Barrick Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow told Reuters, referring to a large scale, long-life, high margin deposit.

PNG’s next steps with Barrick could influence billions of dollars of planned investment by global miners including Australia’s Newcrest Mining and St Barbara, who are eyeing new mines or mine extensions, but are wary of rising sovereign risk.

Miners, facing a dearth of new deposits and rising resource nationalism, may now have to cede greater rewards to other stakeholders.

“There will have to be equitable sharing of the spoils or these things won’t be developed or will be discontinued, ultimately,” said portfolio manager Simon Mawhinney, at Allan Gray in Sydney who is among Newcrest’s biggest investors.

Barrick’s tier-one designation, used describe a mine capable of producing 500,000 ounces of gold annually for at least 10 years at low cost, would place Porgera in league with Barrick’s crown jewel assets at a time major gold miners are desperate to replace shrinking reserves.

Barrick and Zijin’s combined 2018 production at Porgera was around 421,500 ounces.

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

An exposed pipe that Barrick uses to dump its tailing into the environment at Porgera in Papua New Guinea and people desperate for an income pan for residual gold in the waste, seen in a photograph from 2017. Photo by Catherine Coumans

Barrick has broadened the role of its top China executive and former U.S. diplomat Woo Lee to handle day-to-day talks with the PNG government. It has pledged to relocate villagers whose land the mine has swallowed and study ways to improve management of mine waste currently dumped in rivers, Bristow said.

The moves, aimed at mollifying concerns over access to arable land and pollution of local waterways, may not be enough to satisfy landowners and the PNG government who want a larger equity stake.

Barrick and Zijin each own 47.5% of the mine, with the remaining 5% held by landowner group, Mineral Resources Enga.

Analysts have said Barrick could opt to put its stake on the block with other assets it has shed to meet a $1.5 billion divestment target. But Bristow played down a potential sale, saying Porgera fits Barrick’s investment criteria.

“It makes real returns, it creates value, it can survive the cyclicality of the gold industry and will make a significant contribution to our other stakeholders,” he said.

Barrick’s top executive has shown he is willing to make concessions to settle disputes. In October, Barrick agreed to sell Tanzania a 16% stake in each of its Bulyanhulu, North Mara and Buzwagi mines to resolve a long-running fight over taxes.

The Canadian miner may face added pressure to confront issues in PNG that run afoul of investor benchmarks on environmental, social and governance issues.

Citi, for example, has pledged not to support mining companies who use riverine tailings disposal which an NGO said in a 2019 report had polluted the rivers and denied locals reliable drinking sources.

Maso Mangape of the Porgera Land Owners Association said local residents had been squeezed out. “The mine site has now become a battlefield,” he said.

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MRA Updates On Porgera Mine Lease Application and Wafi-Golpu

Melisha Yafoi | Post Courier | January 7, 2020

Application for a Special Mining Lease for the Porgera gold mine is still in progress.

Mineral Resources Authority managing director Jerry Garry told the Post-Courier that the state is progressing the determination of the application which expired on August 16, 2019.

Mr Garry said during that process there will be two major streams of activities including the negotiations of the Mining development contract and recommendations from the Mining Advisory Council.

He said for the Mining development contract, the State Negotiation Team, (SNT) will recommence negotiations with the mine operators Barrick & Zinjin upon receiving directives from the NEC.

“This process will principally discuss fiscal regimes and other stability agreements in terms of taxes, royalties, equity, national content and other benefits teams,” he said.

While for the recommendations, he said this will be administered by the MRA whereby the technical and financial capabilities of the operator and compensation agreement pertaining to the extension application will be presented before special MAC for its deliberations and recommendations, either for refusal or grant to the Mining Minister & ultimately to NEC.

“We anticipate conclusion of the permitting, if, all goes well without any disruptions to the process, within first or second quarter of 2020,” he said.

Mr Garry said the permitting of Wafi-Golpu project after being halted due to a court injunction order was relieved preventing everyone from doing any work.

He said the injunction remains on foot and will SML application be dealt with only when the court injunction is resolved.

“Whenever the court injunction is relived, the MRA will formalise the remaining landowner associations along the pipeline and tailings outfall, and continue to hold development forum to develop the memorandum of agreements and compensation agreements with landowner associations, LLG and provincial government.

Concurrently, the SNT will re-open Mining Development Contract negotiations with the project development proponents, Harmony and Newcrest,” he said.

“It is anticipated that SML permitting may take 4-6 months from the date when the court injunction order is lifted.”

Mr Garry said as for the Revised Mining Act, whenever the Revised Mining Act is passed by the Parliament, the MRA will re-align itself to meet the new changes.

He said the Prime Minister has urged another consultation with the industry during the December 2019 PNG Mining Conference and the Department of Mineral Policy & Geohazard Management will be coordinating this process.

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Fighting Among Illegal Miners Worries Barrick

Barrick Gold looks to PNG government to sort out a mess that the Canadian mining company itself has created

Post Courier | December 30, 2019

Operator of the Porgera gold mine in Enga Province, Barrick Niugini Limited (BNL) has called on the government for an urgent intervention in Porgera after a protracted violent conflict between armed warring factions of illegal miners.

The operator stated that the illegal miners are believed to be from Tari.

The incident happened earlier this week on the Porgera Special Mining Lease which the clash occurred in the mine’s open pit area where numerous gun shots were discharged.

There were also reports from community members that many other combatants with injuries from the gun battle were carried away from the area by their accomplices.

The gun battle came just 24 hours after mine security personnel and members of the PNG police recov-ered the body of a woman who had died of significant injuries, including gun-shot wounds, within the mine’s operations area. The woman was also believed to be from Tari.

“BNL is appalled by the level of lawlessness that is continuing to pervade the Porgera district, and is particularly concerned by the senseless killing and the use of rearms by warring groups of illegal miners who have invaded Porgera from other areas.

“The on-going use of rearms by outside criminal elements continues to create fear among the community and local mine employees,” a company spokesman said.

“The company remains ready to support the government’s commitment to a long-term solution for Porgera’s law and order problems, following discussions between Police Minister Bryan Kramer and the community during the Minister’s recent visit to the district.”

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PNG PM urges patience over Porgera mine talks

“Government was well aware that a majority of landowners want Barrick’s lease not to be renewed” – PM.

Radio New Zealand | 5 December 2019

Papua New Guinea’s prime minister has urged patience while negotiations over the contract for the Porgera gold mine continue.

James Marape was responding to questions in parliament from Laigap-Porgera MP, Tomait Kapili.

Barrick Gold Ltd, the co-operator of the mine in Enga province with China’s Zijin Mining Group, is pushing to renew its contract.

Mr Kapili requested that Mr Marape move all negotiations to Porgera itself, to adequately gauge landowners’ views and the extent of problems around the mine.

The MP spoke of ongoing “serious” law and order problems which he linked to a surge of outsiders to Porgera since the expiry of the Special Mining Lease in August.

“Since the expiry of the SML there’s hundreds and thousands of people coming from afar, outside the valley, claiming that the extension of the license – while we are negotiating – is not in order, ‘they are illegally mining, so we also want to illegally mine’.”

The prime minister answered that the government was well aware that a majority of landowners want Barrick’s lease not to be renewed.

He said the government had received many written and oral representations from landowners indicating that over 90 percent of them were against Barrick staying on.

“But we are mindful that our partners are operating the mine and they have the asset up there in the mine itself, so those discussions will bring to full conclusion when we consult everyone.

“I intend in the new year (for) an announcement to be made to the status of what will happen in Porgera,” said Mr Marape, adding that he would consider the Laigap-Porgera MP’s request.

“Let me assure the member that I look forward to considering his recommendations in the positive, that all discussions, if not all major discussions, will take place in Porgera, be held in the Porgera valley up in Enga province. So those recommendations are taken on board.”

Since last year, Porgera landowners have conducted a number of public protests to demonstrate their opposition to Barrick’s continued involvement in the mine.

They have complained about lack of compensation for environmental damage caused by the mine over almost thirty years of operation.

Mr Marape urged landowners to maintain composure while the government concludes its discussions with the mine operators.

His government is seeking a greater share in the mine.

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