Tanzania has slapped Acacia Mining, a subsidiary of Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold, with a fine of $2.4 million (Sh242.6 million) for environmental pollution, a regional official said Friday.
Samuel Gwamaka, a regional official with Tanzania’s National Environmental Management Council, said the fine was for “very serious” pollution around Acacia’s North Mara mine in the north of the country.
“For this reason we have imposed a heavy punishment on the company, a fine of 5.6 billion Tanzanian shillings,” he told the private television station BMG TV.
Also speaking to the television station, Environment Minister January Makamba said the fine must be paid within two weeks of “official notification of the decision”.
In a statement published on its website Friday, Acacia said it noted media reports on the fine, and that it had received verbal notice of an Environmental Protection Order (EPO) — an order to a company to remedy or prevent further environmental harm.
However it had yet to receive the order and said it was reaching out to the government to “seek details of any EPO or other statutory order that might have been issued, imposing a fine or requiring the mine to take further remedial action.”
In a statement in March, Acacia said that the government had ordered it to resolve an incident that resulted in the spillage of water from a polishing pond — which contains mine wastewater and tailings — into the local environment after a pipe was stolen.
Tanzania is rich in minerals and ranks fourth among gold producers on the continent. Gold is the country’s leading mineral export and one of its primary sources of revenue.
Barrick has been locked in two years of talks with the Tanzanian government which in 2017 slapped Acacia with a bill of $190 billion (160 billion euros) in unpaid taxes and interest.
Barrick refutes the allegations.
President John Magufuli is intent on regulating his country’s mining sector, which has faced allegations of fraud and underreporting of production and profits, and has locked horns with foreign mining companies.