Gold miner Barrick Gold Corporation reports that it has settled the majority of historical land disputes associated with its Tanzania-based North Mara operation, in addition to paying the first tranche of the $300-million settlement it agreed with the Tanzanian government to resolve the disputes it inherited from former subsidiary Acacia Mining.
Ninety per cent of the outstanding land claims at North Mara have been settled, with payments scheduled to start on May 25.
Barrick president and CE Mark Bristow says these landmark events demonstrate the strength of the partnership the company forged earlier this year through the formation of the jointly owned Twiga Minerals Corporation, which oversees the management of Barrick’s operations in the country.
Contrary to the past, where these claims were handled by the mine, the compensation process is being overseen by a committee representing Twiga, the government, the local authorities and the affected communities. This will ensure that the process is transparent and that issues are dealt with fairly and promptly.
In terms of its framework agreement with the government, the shipping of some 1 600 containers of concentrate stockpiled from Bulyanhulu and Buzwagi, resumed in April and the first $100-million received from the sale has gone to the government. This initial payment will be followed by five yearly payments of $40-million each.
The miner further reports that all material issues have been dealt with or were being finalised.
Barrick Africa and the Middle East COO Willem Jacobs says the basis of the settlement, which also provides for future claims, was produced during several weeks of close and constructive engagement between Twiga, the Ministry of Mines, the Ministry of Land, the local authorities and the community.
A commercial bank has been appointed to provide financial training to the compensated landowners.
Further, since taking over North Mara, Barrick has focused on improving the mine’s water management with special emphasis on its tailings storage facility.
Jacobs says Barrick’s intervention had put an end to 15 years of poor water management on site and has ensured that going forward, its environmental risks are properly contained in line with the group’s best practice standards.