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June 3 (Bloomberg) -- Tanzanian police said they are investigating allegations of sexual assault by its officers and security forces at the North Mara mine owned by a subsidiary of Barrick Gold Corp., the world’s largest producer of the metal.
“We expect Barrick, who wrote to us, to lead us to the victims as the starting point of the investigation,” Constantine Massawe, regional police commander in Tarime, where the mine is located, said today in a telephone interview. “We have never received complaints of sexual assault at the mine before.”
Barrick will make public the results of its own investigation into the “highly disturbing” sexual-assault allegations, the company said in a May 30 statement. The rape claims follow a confrontation on May 16 in which Barrick said hundreds of “armed intruders” stormed the mine to loot ore, leading to five deaths.
The alleged sexual attacks were reported to have occurred over the past two years, Andy Lloyd, a Barrick Gold spokesman, said today in a telephone interview.
“We provided this information to police and requested that they conduct an investigation,” he said.
The North Mara mine is operated by London-listed African Barrick Gold Ltd., which was created last year when Toronto- based Barrick spun off its African operations. Barrick shares have declined 15 percent on the Toronto Stock Exchange since April 21, the last trading day before the company announced it agreed to the C$7.3 billion ($7.5 billion) purchase of Equinox Minerals Ltd., which owns the Lumwana copper mine in Zambia.
The Legal and Human Rights Center, a Dar es Salaam-based nongovernmental organization looking into the claims, said the alleged victims are afraid to go to police.
“Victims claim to have been raped by police officers and company security guards,” Flavian Charles, program officer at the Legal and Human Rights Center, said in an interview yesterday. “They also fear divorce when their husbands find out they were raped.”
--Editors: Steven Frank, Amanda Jordan.
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