Barrick’s Bristow hoping to “resolve certain issues” as DRC’s Tshisekedi strengthens powerbase

Mark Bristow, CEO, Barrick Gold

BARRICK Gold CEO, Mark Bristow, said he hoped to resolve “certain outstanding issues” related to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following the formation of the country’s new coalition government by its president, Felix Tshisekedi.

Tshisekedi formed a new cabinet earlier this month in a development that signals the balance of power in the DRC may have shifted to the president from the country’s former head of state, Joseph Kabila.

One of the outstanding issues Bristow referred to was unfinished business regarding the country’s unpopular new mining code.

The code, promulgated in 2018 by the Kablia government shortly before Tshisekedi came into power, drew criticism from miners because it disregarded stabilisation clauses in the previous code and upped export duties on base and precious minerals.

Initially, Tshisekedi made conciliatory comments about finding a “win-win” solution on the new mining code which Barrick and Glencore say disincentivises new investment.

Commenting in a statement to media regarding the first quarter performance of the Kibali gold mine in the DRC, Bristow also said today he anticipated the repatriation of cash in profits from the mine thought to total about $500m.

Bristow said last week the repatriation of the monies – with a similar amount also owed to AngloGold Ashanti, Barrick’s joint venture partner in Kibali – was imminent. However, it is yet to materialise in the books of either company suggesting its repatriation is not just a simple matter of overdue paperwork, as suggested last year.

“We look forward to working closely with His Excellency President Felix Tshisekedi and his new coalition government,” said Bristow. Since the development of Kibali started in 2010, it has contributed $3.5bn to the DRC’s economy, he added.

Bristow’s comments follow a statement on Monday from a joint venture company through which Barrick operates Kibali – Kibali Goldmines SA – that the state-owned gold investment company, SOKIMO (Societe Miniere de Kilo-Moto) had filed proceedings with the commercial court in the DRC’s Kinshasa described in an attempt to “… extort certain benefits from the company”.

This is the second time SOKIMO had sought claims “of this kind”, said Kibali Goldmines. “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.”