Barrick Gold Corp. has sued a small Quebec publisher over a book that alleges the company played a role in the expropriation of land belonging to Tanzanian miners more than a decade ago.
The company is seeking $6 million from the authors of Noir Canada: Pillage, corruption et criminalité en Afrique and its publisher, Les Éditions Écosociété Inc., for alleged libel contained in the book, which explores the role of Canadian companies in Africa.
The book claims that Canadian mining company Sutton Resources used bulldozers to remove independent workers and their families from land in Bulyanhulu, Tanzania – an event in which more than 50 people were buried alive.
Barrick Gold later bought Sutton Resources.
The lawsuit, filed last week, accuses the authors – Alain Deneault, Delphine Abadie and William Sacher – of apparent inaccuracies in their section on the Bulyanhulu event that the company alleges have smeared its reputation.
"They have made outrageous allegations," said Barrick Gold spokesman Vincent Borg. "It's utter fiction."
The authors of the book are arguing the book was well researched and is protected by free speech and that Canadians have a right to know how their investments are being spent.
Écosociété says it can't afford to defend itself against the lawsuit, which is seeking an amount that is about 25 times higher than the non-profit publishing house's annual profit.
"This is a winning strategy for Barrick Gold, because even if they lose, they will paralyze Les Éditions Écosociété," said spokesman Serge Mongeau.
A threatening letter sent by Barrick Gold to Écosociété last month forced the postponement of the book's launch. But the publisher eventually distributed 1,700 copies of the book.