Barrick to sell gold worth up to $280 million as export ban lifted

LONDON (Reuters) - Barrick Gold will start to ship gold worth up to $280 million from Tanzania, chief executive Mark Bristow said on Monday, after the government lifted an export ban following the resolution of a three-year tax dispute.

FILE PHOTO: A visitor passes a Barrick Gold mining company display during the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) annual convention in Toronto, Ontario, Canada March 4, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo

The world’s second-largest gold miner signed a deal on Friday with Tanzania’s government, ending a row that dated back to when Acacia Mining ran the Tanzanian operations.

Barrick fully acquired Acacia last year.

“The shipments will start immediately and, as we speak, we are mobilising the concentrates,” Mark Bristow told Reuters in a telephone interview.

“It’s (worth) around $260-$280 million depending on the price of metal prices at the time of sale.”

Spot gold, which rose 18% last year, is hovering at about $1,600 per ounce.

Bristow said $100 million from the proceeds of the sale of concentrates will go towards paying down a $300 million settlement agreed with the government.

As part of the deal, Tanzania will own 16% of Twiga Minerals, a new joint venture set up to manage the Bulyanhulu, North Mara and Buzwagi mines.

In the long-standing dispute, Acacia was accused of tax evasion, leading the government to impose a ban on exporting mineral concentrates and to change mining laws in 2017.

Barrick’s Tanzanian operations account for about 6% of its gold output.

Bristow said shutting Acacia Mining’s office in London and reducing staff numbers in Johannesburg and Dar es Salaam, had already reduced costs, but he saw further potential for efficiency. He declined to give further details.

Barrick also plans in the fourth quarter of this year to re-start the Bulyanhulu mine in Tanzania, which ceased operations because of the export ban.

Asked about a possible sale of Barrick’s Zambian mine, Bristow said Barrick’s Lumwana mine was “entertaining interested parties”. The miner reversed an impairment on the value of the copper mine in the previous quarter.

Bristow declined to give any update on three people who worked for Acacia Mining and have been in jail in Tanzania since 2018.

Reporting by Zandi Shabalala, editing by Barbara Lewis