February 7, 2020 / 11:50 AM / 5 months ago

Canadian miner Banro looking to sell Congo gold mine at discount: CEO

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Canadian miner Banro is looking to sell its Namoya gold mine in eastern Congo at a significant discount, its chairman told Reuters on Friday, blaming the government’s failure to improve security in the area.

Four Banro employees were kidnapped in July in Democratic Republic of Congo and held for several weeks before being released.

The repeated attacks by local militias forced Banro Corporation to suspend operations at several of its sites in September.

The company sold its Twangiza mine to minority shareholder Baiyin International Investments of China for $1 on Jan 17 because the mine’s liabilities exceeded projected revenue, Chairman Brett Richards said.

“I am now at the point of looking for an alternative, a strategic exit,” Richards told Reuters by telephone.

“I’m actively trying to sell the business for very, very low value to see if somebody else can come in and accept the unstable environment that has been created by the government.”

The government rejected Banro’s November declaration of force majeure. Namoya and Banro’s two advanced exploration projects, Lugushwa and Kamituga, remain closed.

In September Richards said he asked President Felix Tshisekedi to improve security around the sites.

The president was empathetic but also blamed Banro for failing to live up to its “social obligations”, Richards said.

“We’ve had no cash to put into the communities as a result of these terror attacks, so they’re putting the cart before the horse and after the fruit stand.”

The mining minister did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporting and writing by Hereward Holland; editing by Juliette Jabkhiro and Jason Neely

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