Barrick Gold Corp. is opening the door to a sale of its biggest copper mine as it faces higher taxes that threaten its profitability in Zambia.
In a statement on Monday, Barrick said the Zambian government has proposed tax increases for its Lumwana property that would “imperil the mine’s ability to sustain returns to all stakeholders.”
Barrick said reports that it had already sold Lumwana were untrue, but the Toronto-based company allowed that given the “challenging conditions,” it was considering “all options.” The potential sale is an about-face for Barrick, which had previously designated its copper assets as “strategic” and not something it was planning to sell.
Barrick inherited the Lumwana mine in its $7.3-billion acquisition of Equinox Minerals Ltd. in 2011.
Over the past few years, African countries including Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have introduced punitive tax measures that have driven up the cost of doing business abroad for Canadian miners.