AngloGold Seeks Talks to Break Impasse on Mine Laws

  • CEO says he’s waiting for Tanzania to set date for talks
  • AngloGold may sell some mines if the price is right, CEO says.

AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. is seeking talks with the Tanzanian government to break a deadlock over changes to mining laws that the firm has said it will challenge through arbitration.

 “We have reached out to the government for negotiations,” Chief Executive Officer Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan said in an interview with Bloomberg Television at a Bank of Montreal mining and metals conference in Florida. “We are agreeing the logistics on when we meet with the government.”

Last year, Tanzania approved laws that enable it to renegotiate contracts with mining companies as well as other measures such as higher royalty payments. AngloGold, which plans to extend the life of its Geita mine in the country, has since lodged an appeal with the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law to have a mine development agreement it signed with Tanzania in 1999 upheld.

The Johannesburg-based company supports Tanzania’s attempts to improve citizens’ living standards and root out corruption, Venkatakrishnan said. The government has been in a year-long fight with another producer, Acacia Mining Plc, after placing a ban on mineral concentrate exports and saying that firm under-reported the value of its shipments.

 Other Mines

AngloGold, which has sold some South African mines following heavy losses, last week said it will reopen its idled Obuasi mine in Ghana after the country approved a plan to redevelop the asset as a more profitable, mechanized operation.

The CEO said AngloGold will “never say never” on moving its primary listing from Johannesburg, may still sell more mines and is also open to partnerships at Obuasi.

“We are quite comfortable with the diverse nature of the portfolio,” Venkatakrishnan said. “Having said that, for the right offer, every one of the assets we have to look at in terms of potentially putting it on a disposal track if we choose to.”

He declined to comment when asked if London would be a logical place for the primary listing, saying only that a shift from Johannesburg is “certainly an option we have to continue to look at. Whatever delivers best value for shareholders we’ll look at.”

Mining companies in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where AngloGold has a joint venture with Randgold Resources Ltd., are optimistic that President Joseph Kabila will return a proposed, controversial mining code back to Parliament, Venkatakrishnan said.

— With assistance by James Attwood.

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