Barrick Meets New Congo Administration: Africa Mining Update

Executives, investors and government officials meet in Cape Town this week at the African Mining Indaba, the continent’s biggest gathering of one of its most essential industries.
The gold sector will be a hot topic this year, after two giant deals reignited interest in bullion producers, prompting speculation over who might be next. Investors attending the event will be looking for indications of progress in industry disputes with the governments of countries including Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. Tailings dams are also in the spotlight, after Vale SA’s disaster in Brazil.

Gold Miners Get Their Mojo Back as Giant Deals Revive
Here are the latest developments, updated throughout the
day. (Time stamps are local time in Cape Town.)

Barrick on Congo (10:30am)

Barrick Gold Corp. Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow said the miner has already started engaging with the new administration in the Democratic Republic of Congo, after President Felix Tshisekedi was sworn in late last month. Bristow met Tshisekedi’s chief of staff and his advisers on Jan. 29 and discussed the country’s new mining rules that were introduced by the president’s predecessor and have been strongly opposed by the industry.
Read more: Too Early to Bet on Mining Policy Change: Congo Vote Reaction

They addressed “the ongoing debate about what is the appropriate mining and fiscal regime for the country as a whole and the different regions,” Bristow said at a press briefing. “We’ll find a solution. I have no doubt.”

No Update on Acacia Dispute (10:30)

Barrick’s Bristow said he’s still expecting to break a deadlock with Tanzania that’s crippled the company’s Acacia Mining Plc unit, but refused to give a timeline for any deal.
‘’We’ll bring this standoff to an amicable resolution,’’ Bristow said. ‘It’s important to do that.’’ Bristow said he expects the agreement to fit within an earlier framework hammered out by Barrick Executive Chairman John Thornton and the country’s president that involves a $300 million payment to Tanzania and an equal split of the economic benefit from its gold mines.

Barrick on Tailings (9:30am)

Barrick is “paranoid” about its tailing dams after Vale’s recent disaster, Bristow said. The Vale dam collapse killed at least 110 people and leveled part of the city of Brumadinho.
Barrick reviews all its sites quarterly and believe its tailings dams are in reasonable shape, Bristow said.
It’s essential that authorities get to the root of the problem as soon as possible and review the best practices for tailings, Bristow said. Having third parties inspect and sign off on things such as tailings dams doesn’t abdicate management from responsibility. “The responsibility never leaves the executive team” Bristow said.

South Africa’s Shrinking Sector (8:30am)

Employment in South Africa’s mining sector shrunk by 11 percent, or 56,366 jobs, in the past five years, according to lobby group Minerals Council South Africa. That includes a net loss of 11,217 in 2018, largely thanks to cuts in gold and platinum workforces, according to the group’s latest Facts and Figures publication, published Monday. The sector’s costs rose by an average of 6 percent.


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