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Acacia refutes allegations of unlawful killings at Tanzanian gold mine

Acacia Mining plc refuted allegations by two anti-mining nongovernmental organizations, MiningWatch Canada and Rights and Accountability in Development, regarding unlawful killings at the company's North Mara gold mine in Tanzania.

The company put out a news release Sept. 23 in response to a Sept. 22 report by Canadian publication The Globe and Mail that said the Tanzanian police killed 65 people and caused more than 270 injuries at the mine operated by Barrick Gold Corp.'s African subsidiary. Barrick acquired the mine in 2006.

"We have seen a consistent reduction in the number of intruder fatalities at the mine, with 2015 over 50% lower than 2014," Acacia said in its statement. "In 2016 to date there has been a further reduction, with two intruder fatalities on the property."

The paper based its report on the findings of the Tanzanian mines minister's investigative commission formed in February.

The commission — consisting of local elders, Acacia employees, government officials and politicians from outside the local area — was looking into deaths resulting from clashes due to historical disputes between North Mara and the communities surrounding the mine.

The Barrick Gold unit also criticized the paper for reporting "the number of people killed or injured," as the commission did not state the numbers in their report. The Globe and Mail based its figures on evidence heard during a Tanzanian government inquiry, which Acacia referred to as "uncorroborated complaints regarding police related fatalities and injuries."

Acacia also noted that it moved to underground mining at the Gokona pit to reduce the footprint of the mine and its impact on nearby communities.

The company said it continues to work on improving community relations and security at North Mara, adding, "This is reflected by the fact that we have seen a significant reduction in the number of illegal miners in active mining areas over each of the past four years, with numbers of intruders in those areas down over 99% compared to 2011."