Miscue in DRC mining code delaying repatriation of $500m to Barrick, AngloGold

Mark Bristow, CEO, Barrick Gold

BARRICK Gold and AngloGold Ashanti have still not received the payment due to them of some $500m in profits from their jointly-owned Kibali gold mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) despite Barrick CEO Mark Bristow stating in August that payment had been approved and all that was left was “just the paper work”.

Replying to a question at the Joburg Indaba mining conference, Bristow maintained the money was “safe” and being held in a US dollar account in Barrick’s name.

“Being Africa, sometimes paperwork takes a little longer than normal, but it is far down the road. There is a fundamental recognition that to continue to attract investors into the DRC you have to give them the right to repatriate their profits and there’s no debate (with government) about that.

“There was a miscue in some of the wording in the 2018 mining code which we are still arguing. What we do not want is a quick fix and neither does the presidency or the coalition government.

“We are progressing to rectify that properly and we have no doubt it will happen. The dollars are not at risk at all. As part of that repatriation, we have offered the opportunity for Kibali to pay early dividends to ensure that our Sokimo partner (Societe des Mines D’or de Kilo-Moto – a state-owned mining company) also starts benefitting from the revenues despite the fact that we have not completely paid back the capital yet.”

“Once we finalise everything and it happens the DRC will be a better place and more attractive giving people a lot more comfort to come back into the country,” he commented.

CONSOLIDATION

Bristow also repeated his views that more consolidation was needed in the global gold industry in addition to the numerous deals that had taken place so far but he was non-committal on further consolidation moves by Barrick, in particular concerning Newmont which the group had previously tried to take over in 2019.

The outcome of that attempt was a joint venture agreement over the respective groups’s Nevada operations and a two year ban on any further merger and acquisition activity towards Newmont by Barrick. That ban expires in April next year.

Bristow described the “significant consolidation of the gold sector following the Randgold/Barrick deal” as “a very positive development – unlike the merger mania- drive activity of the 2000s –  which achieved nothing but value destruction.  There has been a series of transactions designed not to maintain production at any price but strategically motivated to deliver value-creating synergies”

He said the industry was “getting itself into shape to deal with the cyclicality of the gold market and, if it continues to consolidate, I am sure the industry will start to become more attractive to generalist investors”.

Asked about Barrick’s future consolidation plans Bristow replied: “As you know we are partners with Newmont in Nevada and in the Dominican Republic and right now we have a very good relationship with them.

“I believe there’s more consolidation that should come out of Africa. We need more assets under a lower number of management teams because that extends the life of mines and gives more credence to the business as a whole.

“If you look back two decades the average life of mine has come down from 20 years to closer to 10 years. That’s not a healthy thing for our industry and we need to lengthen our runway.”

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