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Close North Mara mine- activists

by Vicent MnyanyikaThe Citizen
June 27th, 2009

A cross section of human rights activists have called for immediate closure of the Barrick's North Mara gold mine to give room for investigations into allegations that poisonous seepage from the mine has caused death to about 20 people and 270 heads of cattle.

They also called for resignation of the minister responsible for environment, the Mara regional government and the Tarime district authority for suppressing cries of common people at the expense of the giant mining company.

The civil rights activist groups behind the move have identified themselves as Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), FermAct, the Association of Christians. They are supporting representatives of people who have been affected by acidified water allegedly seeping from the gold mine facility into a river in the locality.

But the mining company yesterday issued a statement denying any wrong doing, saying investigations have proved the report as baseless and malicious.

Speaking to reporters in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the LHRC Deputy Director alleged that the North Mara Gold mine has been a source of environmental pollution for long time.

Mr Sungusia called on the government to close the mine to pave way for an independent evaluation of the situation so as to ensure safety of people of Nyamongo area in Tarime District where the mine is located.

"I don't exactly know how many people are supposed to die due to the Government's failure to take action," said Mr Sungusia.

He called for the formation of an international independent committee to undertake the investigations.

Apart from that, Mr Sungusia also appealed to the Government to hold Barrick gold mine responsible for the damages and the alleged deaths.

But Barrick Tanzania in a statement signed by the company's public relations officer, Mr Teweli Kyara Teweli said the claims were blatant lies.

"As Barrick Tanzania, we want to confirm that these claims are just lies and no one has died of acids as claimed and as earlier reported by the media, we are also planning to officially present our complaints to the media council of Tanzania,"said the statement.

Reports say that water from a storage pond at Barrick Gold's North Mara mine in Tanzania has overflowed into the Tigithe River, the lifeline of the people of Nyamongo and now 20 people and 270 cattle have died of the acid.


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