You could easily be fooled into thinking that the individual pictured above is some dystopian hero, maybe from the next Mad Max film or some other science fiction nightmare. This man is certainly no hero, but neither is he a villain. He is a mercenary, and just one of a number of armored personnel hired by Acacia Mining,[1] the real villains of this story, to stop the miners at North Mara mine in Tanzania from uprising. It is this mercenary’s job to ensure that the miners keep working, even when thirst, hunger, disease, violence, pollution and misery weigh them down. According to Acacia’s management there’s no time for pity. And in exchange for scant tax and some well-timed ‘gifts’, Tanzanian officials turn a blind eye.

The scale of Africa’s subsoil wealth is almost beyond the realms of imagination. An incredible 44 out of 54 African countries sit upon rich and diverse mineral deposits. Sadly, extractive industry players operating throughout the continent have a reputation for inhumane exploitation of workers, and rampant violation of environmental, economic, health and trade union rules, often with the complicity of corrupt local public officials and judges.[2]

Why does this situation continue? The corrupt cannot be called upon to rectify it. And the workers, so many of whom are victims of forced labour, often have no way out. What are their options? To flee and cross the continent, only to end up in a Libyan concentration camp and risk torture? The lucky survivors may just find themselves drifting in the Mediterranean in a small boat, before disembarking in Sicily to be insulted and ridiculed by the populist leaders of Europe.[3] The tragedy is all the greater for knowing that most African countries have sufficient resources to bring wealth to all of their children.

Tanzania has some of the world’s richest subsoil deposits.[4] It sits upon iron, gold, nickel, copper, cobalt, silver and precious stones including diamonds, tanzanite and rubies. It also has deposits of coal, limestone, sodium, plutonium, gypsum and dozens of other commodities for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. The county’s natural wealth mostly lies in the hands of foreign mining companies, and the power imbalance between mining and agricultural interests results in Tanzania’s fertile fields being mismanaged or lying idle. The soil is polluted. Water for farming is diverted to service mining interests.[5] The environmental cleanup of closed, depleted mines is a non-starter.

Over the past decade the situation has worsened, thanks in part to the unscrupulous practices of Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold, the world’s largest gold mining multinational,[6] and its African subsidiary Acacia Mining.[7] The latter was created (originally under the name of Africa Barrick Gold) to manage three mines in Tanzania: Bulyanhulu, Buzwagi and North Mara.[8] Since December 2011 the 4,500 workers at these three mines, 330 of who were gradually laid off,[9] have been paid just 33 cents per day.[10] The company will recover 251,000 ounces of gold per year, and has reserves of up to roughly 3.3 million ounces.[11] For the price of gold during the final week of August 2020, that equated to a sum of $415.4 million per year, with an additional $5.5 billion in reserves.[12] It is a veritable mountain of gold, paid for with the blood of the local population. More than 100 deaths have been recorded to date.[13]


The Man of Destiny

   Kelvin Dushnisky


When Barrick Gold obtained its mining licenses in Tanzania, it was already known as a problematic employer. It was believed to be a source of corruption for public officials in the countries in which it operated.[14] Barrick Gold also had a reputation for violently responding to worker uprisings, some of which occurred following worker mistreatment by Barrick staff.[15] And not only were these Canadians known to bribe politicians and bureaucrats in search of business licenses and special tax treatment, but even the judges in some of the many criminal cases that were opened against them.[16]

In 2011 Barrick Gold poached Kelvin Dushnisky[17] from their competitor Equinox Minerals[18] and made him Chairman. Dushnisky was brought in to lead Africa Barrick Gold (ABG), which was created specifically to operate their three Tanzanian mines. He was granted enormous freedom to act,[19] and was allowed to buy shares of ABG through a mutual fund intermediary,[20] while Barrick Gold continued to own 63.9% of the company.[21] Dushnisky gained real independence from the parent company in 2014, when ABG changed its name to Acacia Mining.[22] Dushnisky could then take independent decisions effecting business in Tanzania and abroad, allowing the company to invest in projects such as its joint venture with Australian mining industry Sarama Resources,[23] owned 70% by Acacia and 30% by Sarama, to open new mines in Burkina Faso.[24] The project is now wholly owned by Sarama Resources.[25]

Kelvin Dushnisky had undisputed experience in the industry.[26] He is a capable manager who previously worked as CEO at five other companies,[27] such as Canadian mining company International Vestor Resources.[28] He then sat on the board of Barrick Gold Corporation,[29] and additionally Barrick TZ and Sutton Resources, which are both controlled by Barrick Gold Corporation. He was a director and vice-chairman of Redcorp Ventures,[30] another Canadian mining company, and a director of Altara Securities,[31] which offers financial services. He is an advisor to the World Gold Council and is the former Vice-Chair of Rescan Consultants and EuroZinc Mining Corporation.[32]

Dushnisky was a high-ranking manager of the Sodisco-Howden Group,[33] a multinational company acquired[34] by CanWel Building Materials Group[35] in 2005. Dushnisky went from Sodisco to CanWel, and his longtime friend, former Sodisco CEO Amar S. Doman, went with him.[36] With the merger of the two groups CanWel became one of the largest construction and hardware distributors in Canada.[37] Doman stayed at Canwell, while Dushnisky went on to Barrick Gold.[38]

Doman is a member of the economic and political elite of British Columbia (BC). When BC held a referendum in 2018 on switching from a majority system to a proportional electoral system, Doman was among those who funded the campaign to prevent the electoral reform.[39] His father, Harbanse Singh Doman was born in India. Doman senior had been embroiled in a scandal over the financing of Bill Bennett’s campaign, who was premier of British Columbia from December 1975 to August 1986.[40] After years of litigation, Doman senior and Bennett were convicted of insider trading in 1996.[41]

Kelvin Dushnisky was involved in a mining scandal while Chairman for Redcorp Ventures. The company heavily polluted the Taku River with acidic drainage from its mines. The Taku is one of the largest salmon reserves on the northern border between BC and Alaska.[42] The mines in question had begun operating in the 1950s, but were closed as early as 1957[43] due to pollution issues. Nevertheless, they taken over by Recdorp over fourty years later in 1998.[44] When the mine had reopened in March 1998, Dushnisky personally promised staff there would never be another acid problem in the river.[45] He lied. Redcorp operated the mines until Alaska Governor Sarah Palin ordered the end of operations because of acid pollution,[46] and demanded that the bankrupt company clean up the disaster they had caused along the river and shoreline.[47]


The Canadian mining clique

Toronto, May 2017. Victims of Barrick Gold murders, workplace accidents, rapes and beatings by private guards from around the world march through the streets of Canada’s capital

The most disturbing part of this story begins with another Canadian company from British Columbia, Equinox Minerals.[48] Equinox rose to prominence shortly after it was founded, in 2009, by purchasing the largest copper mine in the world at that time – Lumwane mine in Zambia.[49] CEO of Equinox Craig Williams, and Dushnisky who was then director of Equinox’s Africa Operations, founded Mopani Copper Mines Ltd. Lusaka (MCM), and signed copper marketing contracts with Glencore, one of the world’s leading trading companies[50].

Things quickly took a turn for the worse. A year later, Equinox had $400 million in debts owed to MCM alone. As the Lumwane copper had not yet been mined, Glencore canceled the contract.[51] And just a few days ago it was announced that Barrick Gold security forces were suspected of involvement in ritual killings, and destruction of houses and a police station near Lumwane with chemicals.[52]

Dushnisky managed to find a buyer who would pay off the debt. Less than a year later, in January 2010, Barrick Gold bought both Equinox Minerals and MCM.[53] The NGO MiningWatch responded with protests in Canada. For ten years it had been trying to prevent Barrick Gold from taking control of new mines in Africa, after the Bulyanhulu massacre.

Bulyanhulu mine in Tanzania had historically been operated by local residents, known as the Small Scale Miners Committee of Kakola,[54] which had come together to exploit the mine at the artisanal level. In 1994 Kahama Mining Corporation Ltd (KCML) was granted a license to prospect in Bulyanhulu.[55] KCML was wholly owned by Sutton Resources, another Canadian mining company.[56] Sutton Resources’ manager at that time was Kelvin Dushnisky.[57] Although the facts surrounding the situation are somewhat confused,[58] it seems that in order to make room for industrial mining operations, thousands of miners and their families were forcibly evicted from the area in August 1996.[59] The lawyers representing the Small Scale Miners Committee of Kakola alleged that 52 people were buried alive when the pits of the mine were backfilled.[60] In 1999 Barrick Gold bought Sutton Resources and proceeded to develop the mine.[61]

Bulyanhulu mine continued to be embroiled in problems. In 2004, miners carried out an armed robbery to take wages, and several of them died as a result, which called Barrick Gold’s security systems into question.[62] In 2006, the company’s accountants cheated on paychecks, but they were protected by teams of bodyguards who had been hired after the theft two years earlier.[63] In 2007 workers went on strike and protested against the lack of security during searches, the low wages and the constant harassment to which they were subjected. The result was that several demonstrations were violently suppressed by Barrick Gold’s guards, more than a thousand workers were dismissed, and Bulyanhulu’s union was driven out.[64] Finally in July 2014,[65] ownership of the mine was transferred to Acacia Mining via a sale considered to be fictitious by NGOs operating in Tanzania.[66]


Barrick Gold’s International Wake of Destruction

The rainforest around the Porgera mine on the island of Papua New Guinea


The last decade of Barrick Gold and Acacia Mining’s business operations reads like a horror story. The scale of their wrongdoing is so vast that the corruption cases uncovered against them in Kenya actually seem negligible.[67]

Argentina – In September 2016 a cyanide pipeline in San Juan, Argentina operated by Barrick Gold collapsed due to lack of maintenance.[68] It had been used for refining gold from the Veladero mine.[69] One million liters of cyanide poured into four streams surrounding the mines. Shockingly, an engineer called Raman Autar had documented cyanide dumping from the mine into the rivers for some time before the pipe collapsed. [70] After years of fighting the miners’ union,[71] Barrick Gold was fined several million dollars. 50% of Veladero mine was sold to Chinese multinational Shandong Mining Company, because Barrick did not have the money to pay the fine and fix its rotten infrastructure.[72]

Australia – In 1999, Rio Tinto received a controversial concession to mine near Lake Cowal in New South Wales, Australia. After prospecting, the company decided to abandon the project. Not only is the lake a paradise of flora and fauna, but the region is frequently at risk of environmental disasters, making it a problematic concession to say the least.[73] What is more, the lake is located in the center of the Holy Land of the Wiradjuri people, for whom mining would be sacrilege.[74] Nevertheless, Kelvin Dushinsky persuaded Barrick Gold to purchase the Lake Cowal user license. From 2006 they sprayed the lake with cyanide[75] and the sacred land was systematically cleared,[76] until 2015 when they were forced to sell the permit after years of litigation.[77]

Dominican Republic – Barrick’s wake of destruction in the Dominican Republic motivated a protest at their AGM[78] in April 2014.[79] The company owns a silver mine in the Pueblo Viejo area, and international NGOs report that villages in the region have been destroyed by cyanide, and that the local population suffers from hunger, thirst, misery and disease as a result, as well a living in fear of reprisals from Barrick’s private guards.[80] With local government indifferent to the issue, NGOs are calling on the United Nations to create a Loma Miranda Natural Park that to encompass the Pueblo Viejo, including specifically several square kilometers around Barrick’s mine.[81] In April 2015 the management of Barrick Gold were taken to court in the Dominican Republic.[82] If the court agrees with the victims Barrick Gold will have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in fines and taxes, and sell 40% to a competitor for lack of money.[83]

Chile – It was a similar story in Chile. Barrick Gold bought a mining permit for Pascua Lama mine in 1994, but it was 2009 before the mine opened. Pascua Lama is located on the edge of an Andean glacier on the border with Argentina.[84] Mining caused the usual problems and citizens filed class actions against the company, which led to years of litigation. In April 2015 Barrick Gold agreed to pay out $140 million, one-fifth of what the plaintiffs had sought.[85] Barrick Gold is closing the mine due to its excessive costs and is waiting for the dispute to be over, so that they can negotiate reopening the facilities with a new industrial partner.[86] In 2019 courts in the United States and Canada overturned the compromise reached in 2015 and reopened the case. The second time around Barrick Gold had to shell out over $3 billion.[87]

Pakistan – In Pakistan Barrick Gold came up against guerrillas who were fighting for the independence of Balochistan province.[88] Barrick Gold owned the Tethyan Copper Company (TCC), which had been operating the Reko Diq mine in Balochistan for about ten years without a license, and with the usual problems.[89] The Baloch Liberation Army did not recognize Pakistani authority over the region, so Barrick Gold resorted to international arbitration to obtain permission to continue operating the mine. The arbitration was especially difficult because the Balochistani separatists were not legally represented in court.[90] Finally in 2019 Barrick Gold agreed to pay $5.83 billion, but the sum has yet to be paid because the Baloch Liberation[91] Front has no office or bank account.[92]

Papua New Guinea – The situation in Papua New Guinea was even worse. The Porgera Gold Mine is located in the middle of a unique tropical forest, on a plateau over 2000 meters above sea level, in an area subject to heavy rains and frequent earthquakes.[93] Barrick bought the usage rights to Porgera in 2006 and problems began immediately. The first visible effect of the presence of the mine was the pollution of aquifers with cyanide and plutonium.[94] When the original mine was to be expanded and Barrick’s security forces began the first evictions, it led to protest marches in spring 2007 and the temporary closure of works.[95]

In retaliation Barrick’s squad responded by burning over 200 homes.[96] There are allegations that women in the village were systematically raped and that massacres occurred, but they were never proven.[97] Police were able to prove however that Barrick’s guards had killed 14 people in 2006 and 5 people in 2012.[98] According to the company the people had crossed the mine fence illegally. There were no consequences for the killings, but the dispute between Barrick Gold[99] and the state of Papua New Guinea and international NGOs continues to this day.[100]

Acacia Mining and Tanzania

The mines of North Mara: a whole region devastated by the exploitation of the ground

When Barrick Gold transferred its mining rights to Acacia Mining and Kelvin Dushnisky became Acacia’s Chairman, rumors of abuse, rape, murder and fraud began to spread,[101] particularly in relation to Bulyanhulu,[102] Buzwagi[103] and North Mara mines.[104]

Dushnisky’s predecessor Brad Gordon[105] had done plenty already to ruin the company’s reputation. Gordon had created a network of violence, bribery, fraud and corruption.[106] And yet Acacia Mining’s reputation worsened with the arrival of Dushnisky. Entire ecosystems around the mines have now been polluted for miles due to poor maintenance of Acacia’s facilities, which has led to the leaching of cyanide, plutonium and other heavy metals.[107] A factory accident in June 2009 caused 203 people to be hospitalized with serious respiratory or skin problems. Eventually 43 people died, as did 1,358 cattle died.[108] Since then Acacia’s security personnel have been shooting those who rebel, or those who jump over mine fences at night in search of a few gold crumbs. The company actually admits that these shootings happen on a regular basis, but apparently it doesn’t keep records. Dushnisky has stated that Acacia is not responsible for these killings, because it is simply defending the safety of its workers and its assets.[109]

As international pressure increases, the Tanzanian government, which remained silent for years despite the events at its three Acacia Mining mines, was forced to react and threaten retaliatory measures if the violence and the systematic pollution of air, water and earth do not stop.[110] So Acacia stopped paying taxes. After years of negotiations in 2019 an agreement was signed, thanks to mediation by consulting firm DaMina Advisors.[111] The agreement went unheeded – Acacia Mining is still not paying.[112] To solve this problem, former attorney general Adelardus Kilangi is preparing a law reform to redefine the relationship between African states and multinational corporations with mineral rights.[113]

The 2019 agreement between Tanzania and Barrick included lifting an export ban on gold and copper concentrates imposed on Barrick in 2017, as well as cancelling their obligation to build refineries in Tanzania.[114] The Tanzanian government received 16% of user rights free of charge in each of Barrick’s three gold mines, and any economic benefits generated by the mines must be shared between the Canadian company and the government.[115] Barrick agreed to repay the $300 million they owed in unpaid taxes since the mines opened with an initial down payment of $100 million, followed by the remainder spread over seven years. Until Barrick can continue, they will lay off workers to reduce costs.[116] A fundamental of the agreement is that it does not mandate sanctions for non-compliance, and that is why Professor Kilangi is considering reform of Tanzania’s laws, which should be extended to other African countries.[117] Barrick recently paid the first installment of $100 million.[118]

In October 2017 under pressure from Barrick Gold shareholders, UN inspectors, international NGOs, activists, Tanzanian politicians and even members of his own company,[119] director of Acacia Mining Kelvin Dushinsky left the company shrouded in shame. Nevertheless, he was immediately hired as CEO the AngloAshanti Group,[120] another mining multinational. Dushinsky clung to his new role for just a few months before the outrage of politicians, environmentalists, human rights defenders, UN officials and mining experts[121] forced him to retire early in July 2020.[122] Dushinsky returned to Vancouver, to enjoy his retirement and the blood money he had earned over the years.[123]

Dushnisky finally left Barrick, and his successor Mark Bristow wound up Acacia Mining and founded a new Barrick subsidiary, Twiga Minerals Corporation, which took over the rights to the three Tanzanian mines and resumed mining. Bristow pledged that Twiga would pay $40 million a year in taxes owed for years to come, and that violence will be thing of the past.[124] A violent past, for which Barrick Gold finally accepts guilt.[125]


Who Protected Kelvin Dushnisky?

Former British Columbia Energy Secretary John Baird (far right) with Barrick Gold Group management at a joint conference in April 2015

The series of horrific events surrounding Dushinsky’s chairmanship beg the question, how could all of this have happened? How could it be possible? The answer probably lies in the aristocratic milieu of Vancouver’s billionaire clubs.

Note especially the surprise resignation of one of Canada’s most powerful contemporary politicians, former Energy and Transportation Secretary John Baird. In March 2015, he left government to join the Barrick Gold board of directors.[126] As early as July of the same year rumors were already circulating about Baird and Dushnisky’s relationship and their possible conflicts of interest.[127]

Firstly, analysts drew attention to Baird’s work as head of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).[128] They were especially concerned by the fact that in the three years prior to CIDA’s closure after it merged with The State Department,[129] Baird granted more than $17 million to cover global Barrick Gold problems.[130] Analysts said Baird was given an overpaid board seat at Barrick as a thank you for the services he had rendered during his years as head of the ministries.[131] According to the Canadian press, a book that documented bribes paid by Barrick to Baird was censored after a series of preventative proceedings. The authors ultimately abandoned its publication.[132]

While Dushinsky may have benefitted from some level nefarious political support back home in Canada, someone in Tanzania must also have been helping him to escape accountability, and so have some personal responsibility to answer for themselves. Public opinion has long pointed the finger at one judge, Lameck Mlacha.[133] Mlacha was protected by politicians for years and promoted to president of the Supreme Court of Tanzania,[134] even after President Magufuli’s forceful speech against the judicial system.[135] Mlacha is currently under criminal investigation for alleged corruption. There was a payment of €35,000 from the account of the HMF Acacia Maendeleo Fund, a fund held by Acacia Mining, to the Bank of Tanzania.[136] Over the past decade Acacia Mining allegedly paid around 300 million shillings, about $120,000, in bribes to Tanzanian judges, politicians and officials, in addition to the non-cash favors and perks they likely handed out.[137] This was all executed with the tacit approval of a few government officials. The situation was far from secret, even to Magufuli.[138]

The Kimberley Process was set up in 2000. It is an independent agency, free from capture by any individual national government. It was created to police and prevent trade in conflict diamonds.[139] The bottom line is that the establishment of the Kimberly Process was a huge step forward for improving a particular corner of trade in problematic resources, but it was not enough to prevent the nightmares caused by Barrick Gold and Acacia Mining from occurring.

The Kimberly Process is now an agency operating under a United Nations mandate based on a treaty to which 82 countries adhere.[140] Tanzania and Australia are signatories, but Papua New Guinea, the Dominican Republic, Kenya, Argentina and Chile are not.[141] Unfortunately the Kimberly Process does not apply to all mines, where human rights violations are mostly monitored by NGOs. This is a situation that needs to change. It is hard to accept that Kelvin Dushnisky will never be held accountable for his wrongdoing, not even at The Hague, which does not have jurisdiction over such matters.






[5] Kjell Arne Brekke, Vegard Iversen, Jens Aune, “Soil wealth in Tanzania”, Discussion Paper 164 of the Statistics Norway Research Department, Oslo 1996 – see






[11] ; ;


[13] ; ; ; ;








[21] ;















[36]  ;





[41] ;



[44] ;

[45], page 13









[54] ;, pages 5-6








[62]  s

[63], page 7

[64] ;, page 7


[66], page 7


[68], page 5



[71] ;, page 6

[72] ;

[73], pages 7-8

[74], pages 8-9

[75], pages 8-9




[79], pages 16-17



[82] ;



[85] ; ;


[87] ; ;

[88] ;





[93] ; ; ;




[97] ; ;










[107] Manfred F. Bitala, Charles Kweyunga, Mkabwa L.K. Manoko, “Level of heavy metals and Cyanide in soil, sediment and water from the vicinity of North-Mara Gold Mine in Tarime District, Tanzania”, CCT, Dar-es-Salaam 2009 – see, as well as in the 2002 Report of CAO

[108] Sakura Saunders, “Debunking Barrick”,, Dar-es-Salaam 2013, page 3 – see

[109] Sakura Saunders, “Debunking Barrick”,, Dar-es-Salaam 2013, pages 4-5 – see










[119] ;

[120] ;



[123] ;




[127] ; ;

[128] ;

[129] ;

[130] Stephen Brown, Molly Den Heyer, David R. Black, “Rethinking Canadian Aid: Second Edition”, University of Ottawa Press, Ottawa 2016, page 275;

[131] ; ;





[136] Court Cases against Lameck Mlacha






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