Africa Mining: “Threats don’t solve problems” – Barrick CEO on Zambia tax dispute

Barrick Gold’s new CEO, Mark Bristow, said his company is seeking solutions to a dispute over mining taxes in Zambia.

“We’re engaged with the government in a constructive way,” he told reporters at a press conference in the Ivory Coast’s economic capital, Abidjan. “We don’t believe that threatening one’s partner is a constructive way to go about solving problems.”

Mining companies in Zambia, Africa’s second-biggest copper producer, have warned that the tax hikes will harm the industry and some producers have said they’ll curtail operations as a result of the changes. First Quantum Minerals in December said it would cut 2 500 jobs in the country, before backtracking this week on the plan.

Barrick operates the Lumwana copper mine in Zambia and said earlier this week it was mindful the government is under pressure to boost revenue. However, “its proposed tax changes would put Lumwana in a challenging situation.” The company has made proposals to the government about a “partnership approach” to improve the state’s share in Lumwana’s economics without overburdening the mine.

Here’s other highlights from Bristow’s briefing:

On the Democratic Republic of Congo elections:

“As Africans we need to celebrate the effort to make a change and let the people speak.” “It’s too early to pass judgment, but I’m pleased to see the elections were held and there was a transition.”

On the dispute with Tanzania:

“Of course I’m optimistic, if you want to be a pessimist in mining then you shouldn’t be in mining. And I’m a geologist so you have to be a real optimist.” “I don’t believe any engagement to find a lasting solution should have a timeframe holding the process to ransom.”

On the company’s operating philosophy:

“We do not employ people with guns. We operate in countries where we have 100 percent confidence where the security establishment of that country will ensure security.” source: Bloomberg

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