Thousands of villagers raided the North Mara gold mine owned by Barrick Gold Corp on Thursday night and caused damage to various mining equipments worth more than $16 million (approx. 21bn/-).
Reports from Tarime district in Mara region where the mine is located say at least one person, identified as Mang’weina Mwita Mang’weina, died in the ensuing skirmishes.
The Mara regional crimes officer (RCO), Deusdedit Kato, confirmed to THISDAY that at least one person was shot dead during the mine invasion.
Barrick Gold Tanzania spokesman Teweli Teweli also confirmed to THISDAY that approximately 4,000 people had participated in the raid of the mine site.
’’The intruders went into the Nyabirama open-pit deposit and started stoning the security personnel there,’’ Teweli said.
He stated that the security guards at the gold mine were ’’totally outnumbered and forced to retreat.’’
Teweli said the damaged equipment include a caterpillar loader worth $1.6m, two shovel machines valued at $7m and $4m respectively, and a drill rig worth $4m, amongst others.
’’They stole some of the components from these equipments and then set the machinery on fire,’’ the Barrick Gold Tanzania spokesman explained.
He said riot police from the Field Force Unit (FFU) arrived at the scene at around 10 pm and set about dispersing the intruders.
’’After the FFU police managed to clear the area, emergency response teams at the mine were able to put out the fires set by the intruders on the mining equipments,’’ he said.
According to the Barrick Gold website, the North Mara mine consists of three open-pit deposits Gokona, Nyabirama, and Nyabigena.
Such invasions are understood to have become a fairly common occurrence at the North Mara gold mine, whereby residents of surrounding villages tend to force their way in to try and steal gold ore from the open pit deposits.