Barrick Gold Corp., owners of the Lumwana copper mine, said it is continuing to engage with the Zambian government and community stakeholders about a mutually beneficial way forward for the operation.

After the first Lumwana board meeting following the Barrick/Randgold merger, Barrick COO for Africa and the Middle East Willem Jacobs said the company was mindful that the government was under pressure to increase its revenue. At the same time, however, its proposed tax changes would put Lumwana in a challenging situation, he said.

“The proposed changes to taxes and royalties would imperil the mine’s ability to sustain returns to all stakeholders, such as the significant contribution of more than $3.3 billion it has already made to the Zambian economy over the past 10 years,” Jacobs said.

“Finding a win-win solution between the industry and government would without doubt increase investor confidence in Zambia and safeguard the long-term prospects of its mining industry,” he added.

Jacobs said media reports that Barrick had sold Lumwana were untrue, but given the challenging conditions the mine was facing, all options would have to be considered.

On January 1, Zambia increased its mining royalties to reduce its debt. The sliding scale for royalties of 4% to 6% increased by 1.5 percentage points and the country is also introducing a new 10% royalty when the price of copper exceeds $7,500 per ton.

This is the tenth mining-related tax change in the past 16 years.