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State rubbishes mineral agreement report

TANZANIA has refuted a report that was aired by a foreign media outlet that there is a breach of agreements with Barrick Gold Corporation, insisting that the report was baseless.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) claimed during the ‘Dira ya Dunia’ programme on Sunday that there is a breach of agreement between the Tanzanian government and Barrick Gold Corporation.

During the programme, BBC reported that in 2017, the Barrick and Tanzania government signed an agreement, where  the former  committed itself to pay a lump sum of  US dollars 300 million, as compensation  for the dispute that had existed. 

The report further claimed that the terms are now being violated by the agreements signed in 2019.

Speaking to the ‘Daily News’ yesterday the Government’s Chief Spokesperson, Dr Hassan Abbasi said that the government and Barrick Gold Corporation didn’t sign the said agreement in 2017 because by then, even the negotiations had not started.

He said the document that was signed in 2017 is actually called a statement of undertaking that paved a way for the two parts to begin the negotiations, so it is not true that they agreed on the money to be paid.

Dr Abbasi, who is the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, said the statement of undertaking was signed just after the government raised issues on accountability, and that is when the President of Barrick Gold Corporation came to Tanzania for which the document was signed.

“It was not true that Barrick committed to pay a lump sum of 300 million US dollars, the truth is when Barrick pledged to release the money, it didn’t indicate the modality of payment, which is why, to begin with, the firms deposited 100 million US dollars.

According to him, the money would be paid in three phases and not seven phases as it was reported by BBC on Sunday evening.

Dr Abbasi also clarified that all transactions of Barrick are operated in Tanzanian’s local banks contrary to what it was reported during the ‘Dira ya Dunia’ programme that the firm is no longer forced to use local banks in its transactions.

“As we all know that Barrick Gold Corporation together with the government of Tanzania formed a joint venture company known as Twiga Minerals Corporation. All the accounts transactions are done within the country and not otherwise,” he noted.

In fact he said, the government has been firm on protecting national interest.

Expounding further, Dr Abbasi said the government’s determination to have smelters constructed in the country is still unchanged and that Barrick Gold has to fulfill the obligation of constructing the plant in Tanzania.

In this item, Barrick agreed to issue 5 million US dollars for research and later implement the construction of the smelter in the country, and for sure he said, the plant would be constructed as planned.

Moreover he said, the government has engaged other investors to construct the smelters, and so far it has already issued two licenses for the project.

“All we need is to have all minerals being smelted in Tanzania for the greater interest of our country and accountability of all natural resources,” said the Government’s Chief Spokesperson.

The government also trashed claims that it has allowed export of mineral concentrate contrary to the directives issued before.

Explaining this, Dr Abbasi said after forming Twiga Minerals Corporation, all properties that were formerly owned by Barrick Gold Corporation, were now owned jointly by the government of Tanzania and Barrick.

He noted that; “In this case, all the concentrates that were seized at the Dar es Salaam port became the properties of Twiga for which the government of Tanzania has its shares, so even if it was sold, it means that the government was fully involved throughout the process.”

Speaking on the procedures that were involved before the mineral concentrates were exported, Dr Abbasi said under the new procedures, all mineral concentrates have to be examined in Tanzania’s laboratories being run by local experts, who will also confirm the number and quantity of minerals carried in the concentrates.

“After that, the team has to ascertain the value of the minerals before the consignment is sold, where the buyer will have to deposit the money to the Twiga Mineral Corporation bank account before being allowed to export the concentrates,” he explained.

He asserted that the government would continue to foster and administer reforms on the mineral sector and ensure accountability and transparency, and that it shall never be derailed.

Expounding, he noted that the new arrangement enables the Barrick to be accountable on paying tax, loyalties, dividend, council levy, corporate social responsibility, community development fund, among others.

“All these collections make a total of 100 million US dollars that the country will earn from Barrick, apart from 300million US dollars that the firm committed to give to the government of Tanzania,” he stated.

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