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Barrick's Thornton optimistic about DRC's mining future

Barrick Gold’s executive chair John Thornton says he is encouraged by the newly elected Democratic Republic of Congo president Felix Tshisekedi’s vision for attracting foreign investment and supporting the development of the country’s mining industry in a spirit of partnership.
Barrick's Thornton optimistic about DRC's mining future Barrick's Thornton optimistic about DRC's mining future Barrick's Thornton optimistic about DRC's mining future Barrick's Thornton optimistic about DRC's mining future Barrick's Thornton optimistic about DRC's mining future

Barrick chair John Thornton is upbeat about DRC's new president Felix Tshisekedi

Tshisekedi was in Washington, DC on Wednesday to address the US Chamber of Commerce as part of an official state visit.

Barrick operates the Kibali mine in the DRC, one of the world's top 10 largest gold mines, along with its JV partner AngloGold Ashanti, which together constitute the largest investors in the impoverished country.

Tshisekedi lamented the fact the DRC was potentially the wealthiest country on earth in terms of natural resources, yet it remained one of its poorest. He said it was his administration's key priority to effect economic and financial reforms and development with help of the international community, especially the US.

"As the value leader in the global gold sector, Barrick offers the DRC peerless exploration, technical and financial support and through Kibali has proved its commitment to the country, the people and its local partners. We look forward to continue making a significant and growing contribution to the DRC's economy and to unlocking the enormous value of its mineral potential," Thornton said.

He added Barrick had an extensive exploration programme designed to find and develop more world-class orebodies in the DRC.

The DRC last year instituted sweeping changes to its mining code.

Thus far, Tshisekedi has been unable to clearly articulate his position on the changes brought by the ousted regime of Joseph Kabila that included higher royalties, higher and new taxes and the removal of legal protection for miners against fiscal changes for 10 years.

Following meetings with Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg and Barrick CEO Mark Bristow in February, Tshisekedi said in March he would clean up the business climate through the popularisation of the new mining code and the conclusion of win-win contracts, according to Bloomberg. "I will be attentive to the grievances of the mining operators through a permanent dialogue."

However, he provided no further concrete indication that the content of the mining code would be altered under the new regime.