BAMAKO, May 17 (Reuters) - Mali’s interim government has raised the combined sales tax on gold by 2 percentage points to 8 percent, a move aimed at bringing it in line with peers in the West Africa region, according to a government statement.
The tax hike came as a senior mines ministry official said Mali will miss its 2012 output target of just over 49 tonnes. The official said it was too early to give a new figure.
Africa’s No. 3 gold miner remains in political limbo after a March 22 coup, which led to the nation’s neighbours temporarily imposing sanctions and a slowdown of many businesses amid sporadic violence and uncertainty over future leadership.
A mix of Islamist and separatist rebels have also seized the north of the country, though this is far from operations of the miners, which include Randgold Resources, AngloGold Ashanti and Avion Gold Corp.
A government statement, seen by Reuters on Thursday after a Wednesday cabinet meeting, said the 2 percentage point increase in the ISCP tax on gold ingots to 5 percent was the only increase in taxes announced by the government.
A 3 percent ad valorem tax is maintained, bringing to 8 percent the total sales tax for gold from Mali, according to a senior mining official.
The government is currently headed by Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra, who was appointed after a deal saw Mali’s coup leaders step aside to allow a civilian-led government last month.
But it is not clear how long the government will remain in place as the interim president’s term runs out later this week and regional mediators and the military are still at loggerheads over who should oversee the country’s future.
Although the rebels have not threatened mining operations in the south and west, and borders have re-opened since sanctions were lifted, firms have been disrupted.
“There has not yet been an evaluation of the overall impact of the crisis but everything points to the 49-tonne forecast being lowered,” said the mine ministry official, who asked not to be named.
Earlier this month, Avion lowered its production forecast for the year to 90,000 - 100,000 ounces of gold, down from 140,000 to 150,000 ounces after it halted mill expansion plans at its Tabakoto mine due to the coup.
Mali’s gold revenues surged by more than 20 percent in 2011 to 240 billion CFA francs ($487 million), tracking a surge in world prices, though gold output slipped to 43.5 tonnes from 46 tonnes in 2010.
The largely desert country relies on gold for about 70 percent of export revenues and 15 percent of gross domestic product.
For a FACTBOX on gold miners operating in Mali, click (Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by David Gregorio)