Barrick Gold has settled most of the North Mara legacy land claims and has paid the first tranche of the $300 million settlement it agreed with the Tanzanian government to resolve the disputes it inherited from Acacia Mining.
President and chief executive Mark Bristow said these were landmark events that demonstrated 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.
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. Barrick said all material issues had been dealt with or were being finalized. This initial payment will be followed by five annual payments of $40 million each.
At the same time, some 90% of the outstanding land claims at North Mara have been settled with payment scheduled to start today. 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.
Willem Jacobs, Barrick’s chief operating officer for Africa and the Middle East, said 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.
Operationally, since taking over North Mara, Barrick has focused on improving the mine’s water management with special emphasis on its tailings storage facility. Jacobs said 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.
Summing up these developments, Bristow said the rapid progress made in resolving the most pressing legacy issues in Tanzania was a tribute to the hard work of Jacobs and his team as well as to the wholehearted support and engagement of the government and other stakeholders.
“This is a striking example of what a true partnership can achieve in building a sustainable business capable of creating long-term value for all stakeholders,” he said.