NYSE- and TSX-listed Barrick Gold has appointed Nguvu Moja Security Services (NMSS) to assist in ensuring the safety of employees at its gold mines in Tanzania.
The Tanzanian-owned and -managed firm is replacing an international security firm on site.
Barrick says the firm is already active at the North Mara operations, but will also be fully deployed at the Bulyanhulu and Buzwagi mines by mid-September.
The total number of Tanzanian security personnel now working at Barrick’s mines and administration office in the country is 462.
Barrick Africa and Middle East COO Willem Jacobs says NMSS has been fully trained in the basic legal principles regarding security and the legal framework that they work in, the conduct of security personnel, the effective use of their equipment and the International Security and Human Rights Principles.
Barrick has faced criticism for many years for a large number of violent deaths at the North Mara gold mine. It has been previously reported that the Tanzanian police have killed at least 60 people and injured more than 200 during years of sporadic clashes with villagers at the mine.
Villagers routinely enter the site in search of low-grade rock, from which they extract small portions of gold.
Since the mine opened, there have been multiple confrontations with security staff, often resulting in shootouts. Protests against the mine in 2011, for example, ended in violence when police forces killed seven people.
Barrick inherited the mine from a former subsidiary Acacia Mining, which, in turn, bought the mine in 2006 from Afrika Mashariki Gold Mines, who allegedly acquired the land in the mid 1990s without compensation to residents that were evicted.
The land disputes had also contributed to protests and violent outbreaks.
Barrick had since settled 95% of outstanding land claim disputes with the Tanzanian government.
Moreover, a group of seven Tanzanian human rights victims previously launched a legal claim at the British High Court against a subsidiary of Barrick, alleging that they had been seriously abused by security forces employed at Barrick’s North Mara mine, which also might have given rise to Barrick appointing a new, local firm.