Chinese miners eyeing Barrick mine face regulatory morass Susan Taylor and Luc Cohen (Reuters U.S. – October 28, 2016)

TORONTO/BUENOS AIRES – Chinese state-owned miners considering buying into Barrick Gold Corp’s (ABX.TO) operations in Argentina would take on assets that are under regulatory scrutiny and entangled in lawsuits and investigations.

China’s Zijin Mining Group Co (601899.SS) and Shandong Gold Mining Co (600547.SS) have held separate talks to buy a 50-percent stake in the Veladero gold mine, one of Barrick’s core mines, four sources with knowledge of the process told Reuters this week.

Barrick would like any buyer to also make an investment in its nearby Pascua-Lama gold and silver project, two of the sources said. On Thursday, Barrick’s president said the company will consider offers to buy some or all of its core mines.

After two cyanide spills since last year, Veladero is the focus of multiple court cases, a provincial investigation, criminal charges against current and former workers and environmental protests. Pascua-Lama has been suspended since 2013 due to political opposition, labor unrest and weak gold prices.

In the four years to 2014, 68 percent of the 210 “regulatory actions and incidents” reported by Barrick were in Argentina, according to company disclosures, though it has 13 other mines in nine countries.

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