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TANZANIA: Intruders attempt to seize North Mara mine

Guardian (Tanzania)
December 13th, 2008

A person was shot dead when thousands of gold seekers invaded Barrick`s North Mara Gold Mine in Tarime District and destroyed equipment worth 15 million US dollars.

According to a statement issued in Dar es Salaam yesterday by Barrick Gold Tanzania public relations and communications officer Teweli Teweli, the incident occurred on Thursday at around 1830hrs.

Teweli said an estimated 400 invaders descended into the Nyabirama pit as Barrick employees were preparing to blast high grade ore, while another 3,000 invaders kept watch from the top of the pit.

He said the intruders stoned the security personnel relentlessly until they overpowered them. The guards abandoned their posts and retreated to safety.

``At this point, the rest of the intruders were seen entering the Nyabirama pit and started destroying mining equipment,`` he said.

He said at about 22.00 hrs, two Field Force Unit vehicles arrived at the pit and successfully cleared the pit and the surrounding areas, thus enabling Barrick`s emergency response teams to fight the fires and attempt to rescue equipment.

Teweli said among the equipment destroyed included a CAT Loader 988, an RH 170 shovel and RH 120 shovel and a DI 600 drill.

``The estimated equipment damage stands at 15 million US dollars. There will also be significant loss of production and revenue as a result of the invasion,`` he said.

He said a meticulous examination of the damage and security of the area was underway, adding that the company was working closely with the authorities to determine the next steps.

Acting Mara Regional Police Commander Deusdedit Katto identified the dead person as Eziron Mwita. He said four police officers were injured during the fracas.

Katto said the people of Nyamongo wanted to seize the mine while the miners were blasting the ores.

He said a number of police officers had been sent to the area to restore order and that blasting activities at the mine had been suspended.

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