July 27, 2017 / 4:32 PM / 2 years ago

Barrick president says 'very positive' on Tanzania talks over ban

TORONTO (Reuters) - Barrick Gold Corp, the world’s largest gold miner by production, has an “open mind” and is “very positive” about talks getting underway with Tanzania to resolve an export ban, President Kelvin Dushnisky told Reuters on Thursday.

Barrick Gold President Kelvin Dushnisky speaks to shareholders about the third cyanide solution spill in 18 months at their Veladero mine in Argentina, during the company's annual meeting in Toronto, Ontario, Canada April 25, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

Barrick subsidiary Acacia Mining Plc has two mines affected by a ban that Tanzania introduced in March, accounting for some 6 percent of Barrick’s 2017 gold production forecast. Barrick maintained its forecast for output of 5.3 million to 5.6 million ounces of gold, but cautioned that could change.

“Given that the discussions are just starting now, and just underway, from our perspective it’s too early to go to any conclusion,” Dushnisky said in an interview. “We just want to see how the discussions continue and we’re going in with an open mind and are very positive about it.”

Acacia, hit with a $190 billion tax bill from Tanzania this week, has warned it will have to close its Bulyanhulu mine by Sept. 30 if the ban is not lifted.

Acacia, 63.9 percent owned by Barrick, is caught up in sweeping changes to Tanzania’s mining industry spearheaded by President John Magufuli, who believes the East African country is not getting its fair share of profits from the sector.

Barrick Chairman John Thornton and Tanzania’s president agreed at a mid-June meeting to hold discussions to resolve the row.

Any impact will largely depend on the ban’s duration, Barrick said Wednesday while reporting better-than-expected quarterly results. Barrick shares rose 3.1 percent to $16.74 in New York trading on Thursday.

Dushnisky also said Barrick has not closed the process of selling its 50 percent stake in Australia’s Kalgoorlie mine, but is not actively soliciting bids.

Shandong Tyan Home Co Ltd ended talks with Barrick in April, citing China’s new capital and acquisition rules. Shandong unit Minjar Gold bid approximately $1.3 billion, Reuters reported.

“At the right price we would have been sellers, but we’re also more than happy to continue to own the asset,” Dushnisky said.

Newmont Mining Corp, Barrick’s partner and the Kalgoorlie operator, has said it was interested in buying the remaining stake, but price was a sticking point.

“We have a view on what’s an appropriate value and we’d be willing to acquire the other half if we could come to an agreement on that value,” Newmont CEO Gary Goldberg told Reuters.

Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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