Petra starts investigation into alleged human rights issues at Williamson
Mining News Pro - UK-based law firm Leigh Day has filed claims in the High Court of England and Wales against London-listed Petra Diamonds and Williamson Diamonds, on behalf of 32 anonymous individuals over alleged human rights breaches at the Williamson mine, in Tanzania.

Williamson Diamonds is the operator of the Williamson diamond mine, in which Petra holds a 75% interest and the Tanzanian government 25%.

The claims allege that Petra and Williamson Diamonds are liable for human rights violations, personal injuries and deaths suffered by these individuals at and surrounding the mine, arising from the mine’s security operations.

Petra states that these claims filed by Leigh Day have not been served on either Petra or Williamson Mines. In a letter before claim, the law firm expressed an interest in alternative dispute resolution methods, including mediation.

Additionally, Petra has recently received a letter from UK-based nongovernmental organisation RAID regarding similar allegations raised by local residents and others relating to actions by Williamson Diamonds, its security contractor and others linked to the operator.

Petra says it will cooperate with RAID to fully understand the nature of its concerns.

It adds that it takes these allegations "extremely seriously".

Williamson Diamonds, as the operator of the mine and owner of the mining concession, is carrying out an investigation, as fully and timeously as possible given the limitations imposed by Covid-19, supported by an independent, specialist consultant, the company points out.

Petra adds that it is initiating its own independent investigation, through a separate specialist third party, which will be reporting to the Petra board. Responses will be provided to the claimants’ lawyers in accordance with the relevant pre-action procedures of the English court, as well as to RAID.

Petra has previously disclosed that there has been ongoing illegal artisanal mining taking place at the Williamson mine over a period of time, owing to the challenges in securing the large perimeter of the special mining licence area, which covers 30.6 km2 – including the main 146 ha orebody, together with alluvial resources.

This illegal mining activity is managed by Williamson Diamonds and the local government authorities on an ongoing basis.

Petra has reiterated that it operates in accordance with the company’s Human Rights Policy and its Code of Ethical Conduct, while it continues to actively encourage the reporting of violations of these policies either through direct reporting at any of its offices or operations, or through the Deloitte Tip-Off Anonymous whistle blowing hotline.

Both Petra and Williamson Diamonds are guided by, and seek to comply with, the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.