June 25, 2018 / 7:21 AM / in 2 months

Acacia Mining's Tanzania tax dispute drags on

LONDON, June 25 (Reuters) - Acacia Mining said on Monday its majority shareholder Barrick Gold would not provide a new deadline for the completion of talks to end a crippling dispute over taxes in Tanzania after failing to meet a mid-year target to do so.

Barrick, which is negotiating on Acacia’s behalf with the Tanzanian government, had previously said it would provide an agreement for approval by Acacia’s board by the end of June.

But in its own statement on Sunday, Barrick said talks continued and backed away from providing a new deadline “in order to allow the process to continue in an orderly manner.”

Barrick, which owns 63.9 percent of Acacia, struck a framework deal in October with Tanzania that was supposed to resolve the tax dispute. It would see Acacia pay $300 million to the government, hand over a 16 percent stake in its mines and split “economic benefits” from operations.

However, Acacia has said any agreement would need to be reviewed by its board.

Tanzania is making sweeping changes to its mining industry to reap more benefits from its minerals and last year slapped Acacia, its biggest gold miner, with a $190 billion bill in unpaid taxes, penalties and interest.

Acacia, which has lost nearly 80 percent of its value since an ban on unprocessed ore in March 2017, denies all wrongdoing.

Acacia shares were down 2 percent in early trade on Monday.

“The company will continue to engage with Barrick to seek to understand Barrick’s expectations for the future conduct and a timetable for the completion of its discussions with the government on Tanzania,” Acacia said in a statement. (Reporting by Zandi Shabalala; Editing by Mark Potter)

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