Barrick, AngloGold say Congo’s SOKIMO in second attempt “to extort” benefits from Kibali

Kibali gold mine, Democratic Republic of Congo

A FRESH dispute is brewing between the joint shareholders in the Kibali gold mine Barrick Gold and AngloGold Ashanti and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which has a 10% stake in the country’s mine via the state-owned SOKIMO (Societe Miniere de Kilo-Moto).

Kibali Goldmines SA said today SOKIMO had filed proceedings with the commercial court in the DRC’s Kinshasa described as an attempt to “extort certain benefits from the company”. Kibali Goldmines is the business unit through which Barrick and AngloGold own their shares in Kibali gold mine which produced 813,000 oz of gold last year.

This is the second time SOKIMO had sought claims “of this kind”, said Kibali. “Kibali also rejects the current proceedings on the basis that it was similarly spurious and without substance, and would seek its dismissal as it had done with the previous claim,” it said.

In February 2019, SOMIKO hatched plans to sell its 10% stake in Kibali to a Toronto-listed gold junior mining firm, AJN Resources, which has long-standing Congo businessman Klaus Eckhof as its CEO. In the end, Barrick Gold and AngloGold Ashanti, threatened AJN Resources with legal action. Barrick argued the mine’s partners had pre-emptive rights over SOKIMO’s stake.

The partners subsequently agreed to pay dividends from Kibali earlier to the DRC government.

“Kibali has operated for the past 12 years under a joint venture agreement with a clear dispute resolution mechanism which in these instances had been ignored by SOKIMO,” the company said.

The dispute could be a blow to mining company expectations of how business might proceed in the DRC after its president, Felix Tshisekedi, seven days ago formed a new cabinet. Coming two years after taking power in the DRC, the cabinet was a signal the balance of power in the DRC had shifted firmly to Tshisekedi from the country’s former president, Joseph Kabila.