Barrick, Acacia table updates on Tanzania situation

A miner operates his scoop tram at the Barrick Gold/Acacia Mining Bulyanhulu gold mine in Tanzania. Source: Acacia Mining plc.

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Acacia Mining Plc [ACA-LSE] and Barrick Gold Corp. [ABX-TSX; GOLD-NYSE] both released updates Wednesday June 19 in relation to a previously announced proposal that would see Barrick acquiring the 36% stake in Acacia Mining that it doesn’t already own in a share exchange deal.

The aim of the proposal, Barrick has said, is to resolve the ongoing dispute between the Government of Tanzania (GoT) and Acacia following a concentrate export ban that was implemented in March 2017. Tanzania imposed the export ban after alleging that mining companies had underpaid up to US$50 billion in taxes over the past 20 years. It recommended that an export ban on concentrates remain in place until the back taxes are paid.

The Government of Tanzania subsequently stated that it will not sign any agreements related to the ongoing disputes directly with Acacia (under its current management), a move that prompted Barrick to offer to consolidate its ownership Acacia in order to facilitate a deal with the GoT. Acacia has three mines in Tanzania, including Bulyanhulu, Buzwagi, and North Mara.

On May 21, 2019, Barrick announced that it had met with directors and senior management of Acacia and presented a proposal for the consideration by the independent directors of Acacia to acquire all the Acacia shares it doesn’t already own via a share exchange of 0.153 Barrick shares for each shares for each share of Acacia Mining.

On June 18, 2019, Barrick said it is prepared to extend the deadline for the announcement of a firm offer from June 18, 2019 until July 9, 2019. Acacia responded by announcing that it supports the request for an extension.

“This extension will allow for the continuation of discussions with the independent directors and further engagement with Acacia’s shareholders concerning the proposal made to Acacia,” Barrick said in a press release. Barrick said the announcement does not amount to a firm intention to make an offer. There can be no certainty that any offer will be made, Barrick said.

In a separate press release, Barrick said the GoT has made it clear that it is not prepared to enter into settlement agreements directly with Acacia. “In Barrick’s view, it is now clear that the relationship of Acacia with GoT has been so damaged by events that led to the concentrate ban being imposed by the GoT in March 2017 and by the subsequent arbitration proceedings initiated by Acacia against the GoT that is no longer possible for Acacia to continue to function as an independent public company, with substantially all of its value represented by assets in Tanzania,” the gold mining giant said.

“Barrick has therefore proposed a solution which Barrick believes represents fair value for Acacia and is in the best interests of Acacia and its minority shareholders,” Barrick said.

Meanwhile, Acacia issued its own statement on Wednesday saying it notes the announcement from Barrick Gold regarding their views on the situation in Tanzania and Acacia’s mine plans.

Acacia said it strongly disagrees with a number of statements made in the announcement. The company said it is also surprised by the circumstances and timing of the announcement, which immediately followed earlier announcements regarding Acacia’s consent to Barrick’s request to the deadline extension in relation to the proposed offer.

“The company will provide a detailed response to the relevant aspects of the announcement, as appropriate, in due course,” Acacia said. Meanwhile, Acacia has urged its shareholders to take no action at this time.

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