The joint venture gives Tanzania a say in operating decisions at the North Mara (pictured above), Bulyanhulu and Buzwagi mines previously owned by Acacia. (Photo: Barrick)

President of the United Republic of Tanzania Dr. John Pombe Magufuli and Barrick Gold Corp. attended a signing ceremony to formalize the establishment of a joint venture between Barrick and the government. The joint venture, according to CEO Mark Bristow, will give the government full visibility of and participation in operating decisions made for and by the North Mara, Bulyanhulu and Buzwagi mines, which were previously operated by Acacia Mining.

This action will take “Barrick’s policy of partnership with its host countries to a new level,” Bristow said.

The agreement also ratifies the creation of Twiga Minerals Corp., the management company jointly owned by the government and Barrick that will oversee the management of Barrick’s local operations, which are now owned 84% by Barrick and 16% by the government. The deal provides for a 50/50 sharing in the economic benefits generated by the mining operations after the recoupment of capital investments.

This agreement marked the end of the long impasse between the government and Acacia over unpaid taxes and fines, which led to the closure of North Mara and the freezing of export concentrate from the two other operations.

Barrick took over the management of the mines after its buyout of the Acacia minorities. Since then, it has negotiated the reopening of North Mara and is engaging with the mines’ host communities.

Barrick will partner with the University of Dar es Salaam and commit up to $10 million in funding over a 10-year period for training and skills development in the mining industry, and will also commit up to $40 million to upgrade the road between Bulyanhulu and Mwanza as well as constructing a housing compound and related infrastructure.

“Since taking over the operatorship, we have been engaging with local communities to restore the mines’ social license to operate and we are cooperating closely with the authorities to address the environmental issues at North Mara,” Bristow said. “In addition, we are working on a local supplier strategy as well as a community development plan to create sustainable economic opportunities for the people around our mines.”

Tanzanian nationals are being recruited and trained to replace expatriate employees as has been successfully done at Barrick’s other African operations, according to the company.