Barrick reaches ‘historic’ deal in Tanzania

A conveyor belt at African Barrick's North Mara mine in Tanzania. Source: Barrick GoldA conveyor belt at the North Mara mine in Tanzania. Source: Barrick Gold

Barrick Gold (TSX: ABX; NYSE: GOLD) and Tanzania have signed a deal that grants the African nation stakes in the three gold mines the company operates there, ending a long-running tax dispute and setting a template for negotiations with other firms.

The arrangement comes three months after the two parties reached an agreement in which Barrick accepted to pay US$300 million to settle outstanding tax and other disputes. The deal also includes the lifting of a concentrate export ban and the sharing of future economic benefits from the miner’s operations in the country on a 50-50 basis.

In addition, the agreement ratifies the creation of Twiga Minerals, a company jointly owned by Barrick and the Tanzanian government, which will oversee the management of the Toronto-based miner’s local operations.

North Mara, Buzwagi and Bulyanhulu mines, which Barrick acquired through the takeover of Acacia Mining in September 2019, are now owned 84% by the gold giant and 16% by the East African nation.

Barrick CEO Mark Bistrow said on Tanzanian state TV that he was happy that Barrick’s “long safari” in Tanzania had ended well. Safari means “journey” in Swahili.

Casting himself as a “Zulu boy” born in Zululand, Bristow called the pact “historical”.

“Many people said your criticism will chase away investors … what it’s done is challenge the mining industry and all of us to embark on something where we win together or lose together,” he said.

Following the official ceremony on Jan. 24, Barrick and Tanzania will continue to work on implementing other aspects of the deal. In particular, the gold miner plans to partner with the University of Dar es Salaam and commit up to US$10 million in funding over a ten year period for training and skills development in the mining industry.

The company has also budgeted US$50 million for brown and greenfield exploration in Tanzania this year.

Barrick said it would also earmark up to US$40 million to upgrade the road between Bulyanhulu and Mwanza, as well as construct a housing compound and related infrastructure.

Tanzania, Africa’s fourth-largest gold producer, is revising other mining and energy agreements as part of a law passed in 2017 by President John Magufuli’s government, aimed at securing more revenue from the country’s resources.

The new regulations include an act that requires parliamentary approval for future agreements, which must “fully secure” the interests of Tanzanians. It also restricts exports of raw minerals, repatriation of funds and access to an international dispute resolution mechanism.

Other changes in the Mining Act include the creation of a commission to regulate the industry and the overhaul of requirements for the storage, transportation and processing of raw minerals. The act also increased royalty rates and government shareholdings in mineral rights.

This article first appeared in our sister publication and was written with files from Reuters. 


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