Doubts emerge over gold export agreement between Barrick, Tanzania – by Geoffrey York and Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – January 23, 2020)

Three months after Barrick Gold Corp. agreed to settle a costly dispute with the Tanzanian government, the deal is still not finalized and could be subject to further negotiations, according to African media and industry analysts.

Barrick and the government have missed a Dec. 31 deadline for completing the deal, and “doubts” have emerged to cast a cloud over the agreement, according to The East African, a weekly newspaper in the region.

Under the agreement last October, the Toronto-based gold company promised to pay US$300-million to settle a longstanding tax dispute. The government agreed to lift a ban on gold concentrate exports, while Barrick promised to share the future economic benefits from its Tanzanian mines with the government on a 50-50 basis. Barrick acquired the mines by purchasing its African subsidiary, Acacia, for US$1.2-billion last year.

The agreement was aimed at resolving a bitter confrontation that began in 2017 when Tanzania slapped an export ban on Acacia’s mines, inflicting losses of US$1-million daily on the company. The government also issued a demand for US$190-billion in taxes from Acacia – the equivalent of four times the country’s entire GDP.

The Citizen, a Tanzanian newspaper, reported this week that the government is still negotiating with Barrick after missing the year-end deadline. It quoted an unnamed senior government official as saying that the two sides are in the “final stages” of completing the deal.

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