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Tanzania fines Acacia over environmental breaches at North Mara gold mine

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Tanzania fines Acacia over environmental breaches at North Mara gold mine

Acacia Mining PLC's North Mara gold mine received an environmental protection order to pay a fine of 300 million Tanzanian shillings, equivalent to about US$130,000, over alleged environmental breaches.

Operations at the mine are unaffected, and the company is reviewing the technical basis of the allegations, according to a Jan. 10 release.

The company, majority owned by Barrick Gold Corp., said it is not aware of any discharge of hazardous substance at North Mara, as reported by the National Environment Management Council, and is waiting for "detailed reports, findings and testing data in relation to this allegation."

Acacia believes that the leakage reports are related to a known seepage issue at the base of the tailings facility, which the company has already addressed. "This seepage remains managed by pumps which return the water to the [tailings storage facility] and it is, therefore, contained on the mine site, does not flow into the surrounding environment or present a risk of contamination to any public water source," it said.

Discussing local media reports that the company has been ordered to build a new tailings storage facility at North Mara, Acacia said it has only received a verbal directive from the Tanzanian government.

The company added that it was already looking at additional tailings management and storage capacity to meet its life-of-mine plans and expects the new tailings facility to be an economically viable alternative to expanding the existing facility.

In early January, Barrick Gold CEO Mark Bristow said the company was considering options for its 64% interest in Acacia, including a possible sale.

As of Jan. 9, US$1 was equivalent to 2,324.50 Tanzanian shillings.