Kibaran says end to Barrick Gold-Tanzania dispute will bring back the money for mining projects
Link copied to
It has been a bumpy road for Aussie explorers in Tanzania, but it looks like things might be taking a more positive turn with a long-running dispute between Canadian gold major Barrick Gold and the Tanzanian government reportedly nearing an end.
Several regulatory moves by the government in the past couple of years created uncertainty for ASX-listed miners active in the east African country and held up the granting of licences.
In July 2017, the government introduced amendments to the Tanzanian Mining Act 2010 including potential renegotiation of agreements, a required 16 per cent government ownership of mining projects and the right to acquire up to 50 per cent of mining companies under certain conditions.
Barrick’s 63.9 per cent-owned subsidiary Acacia Mining has three operating gold mines in Tanzania.
But in March 3, 2017, Tanzania put in place an export ban on gold and copper concentrate exports, which Acacia says impacts around 50 per cent of its combined production at the Bulyanhulu and Buzwagi mines.
Barrick and Acacia last week put forward a proposal to the government that they hoped would bring an end to their woes in the country.
And it looks as if they have finally reached an agreement, which is still subject to Acacia shareholder approval, with the government.
Junior explorer Kibaran Resources (ASX:KNL), which is developing the Epanko graphite project in Tanzania, says this is positive for the mineral sector in Tanzania and for project developers.
The company said following positive talks with the Bank of Tanzania, Mining Commission and Ministry for Minerals, it was pursuing a resolution to the regulatory issues that will allow it to secure debt funding and start building its Epanko mine.
“Our approach is very much working with the legislative changes to develop our project and financing the project through working with the legislative changes,” Kibaran boss Andrew Spinks told Stockhead.
Kibaran was about six weeks away from locking in finance for the project when the Tanzanian government introduced the changes.
And the Barrick/Acacia dispute with the government didn’t help matters, according to Mr Spinks.
“Certainly, we have seen funding becoming difficult as a result of that dispute but also the legislative changes that were introduced in 2017,” he said.
“We’ve been waiting 21 months for Barrick through its Acacia partner to settle with the government, and I think that will help resolve certainly the relationship between the two and also lead to a further encouragement of foreign investment coming back into the country.”
Kibaran has now raised $1.1m via a placement to retail and institutional investors and is working to bank another $1m from the issue of shares to existing shareholders.
The company plans to use the cash to secure debt funding for the Epanko project and finalise developments for the construction of the first EcoGraf battery graphite production facility in Asia.
The Australia-Africa Minerals & Energy Group (AAMEG) has been working with the Tanzanian government to iron out the issues surrounding its changes to the Mining Act.
AAMEG chief Bill Witham told Stockhead previously that once the dispute was resolved it would likely pave the way for the government to start progressing a lot of the mining projects that were ready to be developed.
And financiers are again starting to back projects in Tanzania.
Strandline Resources (ASX:STA) revealed in early January that Nedbank CIB had agreed to act as lead arranger and underwriter of a five-year $US26m loan for its Fungoni mineral sands project.
There are around 18 ASX-listed companies with projects in Tanzania. There were more, but a number have exited over the difficult conditions.
Gold explorer Manas Resources (ASX:MSR) backed out of a project a year after striking the deal because it was no closer to completing the transfer of licences due to the restrictions in place.
Indiana Resources (ASX:IDA) put its Ntaka Hill nickel project on the backburner and picked up some prospective gold ground in Mali instead.
Pensana Metals (ASX:PM8), meanwhile, not long ago struck a deal to sell its Kitongo and Canuck gold projects and is also renegotiating a deal to sell its Miyabi gold project in Tanzania.