Barrick Gold: High levels of various metals contaminate the environment

This report is part of our former “Harmful Cases” documentation, where we continuously and concisely recorded human rights violations, violations of international law or environmental destruction caused by companies.

Environmental devastation in Tanzania

Barrick Gold is running a gold mine in the Mara-district in North Tanzania.

People claimed that the tailing dam was leaking and fear contamination of the area. Barrick alleged that people had been stealing the lining of the tailing dam and destroying pipes. In May 2009 a major spill occurred at the mine. Samples were taken both the area of the spill and the tailing dam at various distances.

The result reveals that the water has been seriously contaminated through high levels of arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, copper, chrome, nickel and zinc. The content of arsenic in the most contaminated water sample contained 8449 µg/l, which shows how alarming the situation is when considering that the double amount is lethal for a human. High levels of arsenic were also measured around the tailing dam itself and the soil at the spill side. In comparison with samples which were taken further away from the mine, levels of all other metals are also substantially higher at the spill side.

Barrick Gold is a Toronto based company and the largest pure gold mining company worldwide.