London gold body drops jurisdictional challenge in Tanzania labelling case

The London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) has dropped a jurisdictional challenge in a case which claims it wrongly classified gold from a Tanzanian mine as responsibly sourced, despite allegations of human rights abuse.

The LBMA is being sued by the families of two 23-year-old men killed at the North Mara Gold Mine.

The families allege the LBMA wrongly classified gold from the mine as being free from serious human rights abuses.

Their law firm, Leigh Day, said North Mara Gold Mine has seen at least 77 deaths and 304 injuries reported at the hands of police and security guards since 2006.

The LBMA had initially argued that the case should be heard in Tanzania rather than the UK.

However, Leigh Day said Tanzanian courts are more difficult for victims of human rights abuses to get their cases heard in.

The LBMA filed the challenge in August 2023, with the application set for a hearing this month. The challenge was withdrawn five weeks before the hearing date.

As a result, Leigh Day said it will pursue the case in the UK High Court.

The legal claim against LBMA is being led by Leigh Day partner Daniel Leader and senior associate solicitor Alex Wessely.

Mr Leader said: “This case will test for the first time whether a certification body can be held legally responsible for a flawed certification process which is said to have greenwashed human rights abuses.”

Mr Wessely added: “Our clients are pleased that they will get their day in court to seek justice for the deaths of their relatives.

“It is a shame that the LBMA has wasted almost 10 months pursuing this application, only to drop it at the 11th hour, but I am very pleased that the litigation is now back on track.”

An LBMA spokesperson said: “The LBMA is a not-for-profit member-based association which provides accreditation to refiners of gold and silver via LBMA’s Good Delivery List.

“The Good Delivery List, first and foremost, sets technical standards (fine ounce weight, purity and physical appearance) which refiners must meet.

“Refiners that wish to be included on the Good Delivery List are required to implement the LBMA’s Responsible Sourcing Guidance, which comprises the Responsible Gold Guidance and Responsible Silver Guidance, and to obtain annual independent third-party assurances reporting on their compliance with this guidance.

“Our role is to support raising standards around human rights in the supply chain.

“LBMA will be defending the substance of the claim when we proceed to trial.”