Monday, August 20, 2018
Peter Geleta

Peter Geleta

Acacia Mining

IT’S questionable whether Peter Geleta will be awarded the CEO position at Acacia Resources on a permanent basis. That’s no slight on him as his interim appointment appears merely part of the holding pattern the firm has been put into by its 64.9% shareholder, Barrick Gold, following its intervention in Acacia’s year-long dispute with the Government of Tanzania (GoT). The GoT’s contention following two highly suspect – and undisclosed –presidential committees in April 2017 is that Acacia owes the GoT billions in dollars of unpaid tax dating back to 2001. Acacia’s concentrate exports were subsequently blocked for most of 2017 forcing former CEO Brad Gordon to put the firm’s flagship Bulyanhulu on care and maintenance, and unveil austerity measures at all three of its mines. It’s disaster for a company that was talking of increased dividends and record gold output in early 2017 and enough for Gordon to quit (in November). Geleta takes up this poisoned chalice knowing that his first act will be to lead a review of Barrick’s decision to have Acacia pay $300m to the GoT for unpaid taxes, and then – perhaps – put the matter to a shareholder vote. A minority shareholder revolt would be the last thing Geleta needs. We know what Gordon thought of things, however: before switching off the lights at Acacia, he kept the firm’s tax provision unchanged while Barrick increased its provision in respect to Acacia’s tax affairs to $300m.

LIFE OF PETER

Given the ravaging crisis at Acacia, it could be argued Peter is “the wrong man in the right place”: he has 35 years in mining latterly focused on human affairs, hence much will be expected of his acumen in ‘people management’, described by Barrick chairman Kelvin Dushnisky as Geleta’s “all-round abilities”. Geleta joined Acacia in 2010 as head of Bulyanhulu. Prior to that he spent 25 years at AngloGold Ashanti leading its African continental division. He also worked at Barrick. A South African, Geleta has an MBA from the University of Cape Town.