Barrick settles cases tied to atrocities at Porgera mine

Fri Apr 3, 2015 4:00pm EDT
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By Euan Rocha

TORONTO, April 3 (Reuters) - Canadian gold miner Barrick Gold said on Friday it has settled 11 claims related to atrocities committed against women over the last two decades at its Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea.

The settlement reached with EarthRights International, a non-governmental organization, that was representing the women, brings to a close all of the outstanding claims made by women, who were allegedly beaten, raped, and threatened by the miner's security personnel and employees. Some incidents dated back to even before Barrick bought the mine via its takeover of Placer Dome in 2006.

Earlier this year, Toronto-based Barrick laid out plans to sell Porgera and its Cowal gold mine in Australia, in a bid to trim its debt levels.

Porgera, which produced over 500,000 ounces of gold in 2014, has been plagued by controversy. In 2013, two illegal miners were killed at the site in a confrontation with police, and in 2011 the miner said it was working with police in the area to investigate allegations of violent crimes at the mine.

Barrick has publicly addressed the issue over the last few years, and it created a remedial framework for women, who were allegedly assaulted.

The independently managed framework had already resolved and settled 120 cases, or some 90 percent of the claims related to sexual assault cases at the mine. EarthRights was representing the few remaining outstanding claims.

Barrick said with this settlement all known claims of sexual assault by mine employees at Porgera have now been resolved.

Under the terms of the settlement, the 11 women will receive compensation under the remedy framework in place, along with an additional undisclosed payment.

Separately, Barrick said it has also resolved three other cases with EarthRights that are tied to claims around deaths at the mine site. Details of the settlement were not disclosed.

(Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Bernard Orr)