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"We will no longer work with Acacia"

The government of Tanzania has reportedly backed Barrick Gold’s statement that it will not work with Acacia Mining (LSE: ACA) to resolve a two-year dispute.
"We will no longer work with Acacia" "We will no longer work with Acacia" "We will no longer work with Acacia" "We will no longer work with Acacia" "We will no longer work with Acacia"

Underground at Acacia’s Bulyanhulu mine in Tanzania

Staff reporter

Barrick (TSX: ABX) last week proposed a buy-out of the remainder of its 63.9%-owned Acacia, saying a basis for resolving the Tanzania dispute had been developed but the government was "not prepared to enter into a settlement directly with Acacia".

A Tanzanian government spokesperson has since told Bloomberg "under no circumstances" could Acacia be a party to the agreements, or have any role in the operation or management of Barrick mining subsidiaries in the country.

"We will no longer work with Acacia," Hassan Abbasi told the wire service.

"The ball is now in Barrick's court."

Acacia had said last week it would take steps to clarify the government's position and noted there was no certainty a Barrick offer would be made.

Meanwhile a note today from Peel Hunt, which lists Acacia as a client, said it believed Barrick's "low-ball proposal" for Acacia and its recent commentary were primarily meant to distract.

"At this point, we believe ACA can offer the shortest timeline for resolution with GoT and therefore avoid the need for international arbitration," analysts said.

Acacia's troubles began in March 2017 when Tanzania imposed a ban on gold/copper concentrate exports, accused it of under-declaring export revenues and delivered a US$190 billion tax bill in July.

Some of Acacia's past and present employees were arrested in 2018, facing charges including tax evasion, and the company's North Mara operation was hit with another environmental fine this month.

Barrick had stepped into negotiations in 2017, proposing a framework for a partnership solution in October that year, which was agreed in-principle in February and involves Acacia sharing economic benefits and paying $300 million to the government.

Barrick's merger with Mark Bristow's Africa-focused Randgold Resources at the start of this year was seen by many as a possible circuit-breaker in the Tanzanian situation.

Barrick shares are down 13.8% year-to-date and Acacia's are down 12.7%.