Diamond firm pays £4.3m over human rights abuses by contractors

18 May 2021

Petra Diamonds Limited (PDL) has agreed to pay compensation to claimants who alleged they suffered human rights abuses at one of its diamond mines in Tanzania.

The £4.3m settlement was agreed with 71 claimants who alleged they suffered serious abuses by third-party security contractors at the Williamson Diamond Mine, and by police who work at and around the mine.

The mine is 25% owned by the Tanzanian government and 75% owned by PDL. Ten of the claims are brought by the families of those who are alleged to have been killed at the mine.

The sum includes a contribution to the claimants’ legal expenses, and significant funds to provide long-term sustainable support to communities living around the mine.

PDL said it acknowledged incidents had taken place but added that there was no evidence that Williamson Diamond Mine personnel were directly involved.

“While PDL is not directly involved in operations at the mine and had no direct involvement in the events, it believes that the agreed settlement balances the interests of its stakeholders with those of the local community and avoids contesting protracted and expensive litigation where, even if Petra prevailed, it is unlikely that its own legal costs would have been recoverable,” the company said in a statement.

It added that following an independent investigation disciplinary processes had been instigated and operational reporting lines in relation to incidents have been restructured, with a revised incident escalation procedure in place.

A fund will be set up to provide economic development to communities close to the mine over a three-year period. Projects could include an artisanal mining project and an agricultural business initiative.

Petra will also develop a medical support programme for the wider community, with a focus on providing assistance to victims of human rights violations at the mine.

Measures will also be put in place to allow local residents to access certain parts of the mine to collect firewood and/or graze animals.

Law firm Leigh Day, which represented the claimants, said provision had been made for up to 25 further claims.

Peter Hill, non-executive chairman of PDL, said: “The company, board and management are deeply concerned and saddened by the allegations, which relate to the treatment of illegal diggers and others on or around the Williamson mine site in Tanzania, by third-party security providers.

“The board regrets the loss of life, injury and mistreatment that appears to have taken place around the mine.

“The agreement reached with the claimants, combined with the other actions put in place, are aimed at providing redress and preventing the possibility of future incidents.”

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