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Barrick makes progress towards settling Mali tax row

Canadian gold major Barrick Gold says it has made further progress with the Mali government to reach a “global and amicable” settlement of the tax and fiscal issues that have strained relations for more than three years.
Barrick makes progress towards settling Mali tax row Barrick makes progress towards settling Mali tax row Barrick makes progress towards settling Mali tax row Barrick makes progress towards settling Mali tax row Barrick makes progress towards settling Mali tax row

Barrick Gold says the Loulo-Gounkoto complex in Mali is on track to achieve annual production and cost guidance

CEO Mark Bristow said Monday negotiations on the settlement's implementation were nearing finalisation.

The tax dispute hinges on US$80 million of indirect taxes the government argues it is owed. The government said in 2016 bullion bank Kankou Moussa, to which Barrick Gold's predecessor Randgold Resources sold gold produced from the Loulo-Gounkoto gold complex, owed $80 million in back taxes along with Societe des Mines de Gounkoto and Somilo, two companies that operated the complex.

Barrick Gold holds an 80% stake in Loulo-Gounkoto, with the state of Mali holding 20%.

Bristow said Loulo-Gounkoto was one of the world's largest gold mining operations and one of the largest businesses in West Africa in terms of revenue, employment and taxes and dividends paid to the state.

Barrick entered Mali through Randgold's discovery and development of Morila, forging the industry's first "true partnership between a host country and investors," said Bristow.

Since then, Barrick's operations have paid about $2.7 billion in taxes, royalties and dividends to the state. Its mines currently contribute more than 40% of the country's total gold production. Barrick also contributes to the economy through its support for local businesses, to which it has paid about $190 million this year to date.

Bristow cautioned, however, that Mali's mining industry was facing "many social and fiscal challenges".

"Overcoming these to ensure that the sector could sustain its contribution to the economy required closer cooperation between government and industry in a spirit of transparency and engagement," he said,

Barrick remained committed to investing in Mali. It was currently developing a new underground mine at Gounkoto, replenishing existing reserves through brownfields exploration, prospecting for another world-class discovery along the Mali-Senegal shear zone and undertaking mapping and research in the south of the country.

During the three months ended September, the Loulo-Gounkoto operations set new production records and is on track to meet its annual production guidance of 690,000oz on a consolidated basis, at all-in sustaining costs of$810-$850/oz, up from 2018 production of 660,234oz at AISC of $609.

The Loulo-Gounkoto complex currently holds about 11.1Moz in the measured and indicated categories.