African Barrick Gold Sued in U.K. by Tanzanians Over Deaths

African Barrick Gold Plc was sued over the deaths and injuries of Tanzanian villagers including one incident where five men were shot and killed at the North Mara gold mine in May 2011.

At least 12 villagers filed a lawsuit in London accusing the company and North Mara Gold Mine Ltd. of using excessive force to protect the mine, according to law firm Leigh Day & Co., which represents the group. The company operates four mines in Tanzania.

“Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents,” Richard Meeran, a lawyer at Leigh Day, said in an e-mailed statement. “We are aware of many other instances in which local people have reportedly been seriously injured or killed at ABG’s mine.”

The company posted a first-half net loss of $701.2 million, compared with a year-earlier profit of $73.7 million, on sales of $499.8 million today as it wrote down the value of its mines by $727 million after gold’s steepest quarterly drop in at least 90 years.

African Barrick said in a statement that the allegations stem from an incident that involved “violent intruders” who invaded the mine.

“After receiving repeated warnings of the risks associated with such activities, some of these intruders were injured by members of the Tanzanian police acting in self-defense or in defense of the safety of mine employees,” the company said in the statement.

North Mara Mine

In December 2010, a Bloomberg News investigation revealed that at least seven people had been killed in clashes with security forces at the North Mara mine over the previous two years.

Foreign claimants continue to file lawsuits in London even when the disputes have little connection to the U.K. Royal Dutch Shell Plc was sued by thousands of Nigerians in the U.K. courts in March 2012 claiming their land, rivers and wetlands were spoiled by two oil spills in the Niger River delta in 2008.

A London judge last week ruled Anglo American Plc’s South African unit couldn’t be sued in the U.K by hundreds of miners who blame the company for dust in African gold mines that they say caused lung disease.

The case is Magige Ghati Kesabo v African Barrick Gold Plc in the U.K. High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, Case No. HQ13X02118

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