LONDON/TORONTO (Reuters) – Barrick Gold’s (ABX.TO) incoming chief executive said he wants to pull together Tanzania’s mining industry to tackle a “desperate” tax dispute that has snared several companies, including the firm’s Acacia Mining (ACAA.L) unit.
In an increasingly acrimonious conflict that has lasted almost two years, the government has torn up mining contracts, hiked taxes and royalties, and banned raw minerals exports.
President John Magufuli, nicknamed “The Bulldozer”, swept to power in 2015 pledging to secure a bigger share of resource wealth and cut corruption. Acacia was later handed a $190 billion tax bill – about four times the country’s gross domestic product – for underreporting output.
The miner, 63.9 percent owned by Barrick, now faces dozens of criminal charges, from tax evasion to money laundering, with three employees arrested on related accusations. Randgold founder Mark Bristow, Barrick’s new CEO after its $6.1 billion acquisition of Randgold closes on Jan. 1, says fixing Barrick’s mounting problem in Tanzania could require a collective strategy that has not been used there before.
“Tanzania has got a broader (mining) industry and the importance of the industry itself getting together with government is not a bad idea,” Bristow told Reuters in an interview earlier this month.