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Acacia Mining beats quarterly production target despite Tanzania government export ban

Acacia Mining has been in a long-running dispute with the Tanzania government over royalties it allegedly owes
The export ban has been in place since April 2017

Acacia Mining PLC (LON:ACA) said fourth-quarter production exceeded its expectations but was still down 12% from a year ago, reflecting the impact of a government-imposed ban on exports of gold and copper concentrates from Tanzania.

The miner, which has been in a long-running dispute with the Tanzania government over undeclared royalties it allegedly owes, reported fourth-quarter gold production of 130,581 ounces.

READ: Acacia Mining says senior manager of its Tanzanian businesses arrested and charged by corruption bureau

Production was lower due to the transitioning of its Buzwagi mine to a stockpile processing operation, partly offset by higher output at the North Mara and Bulyanhulu mines.

The group sold 133,460 ounces of gold in the quarter, which is slightly higher than output due to the favourable timing of shipments and drawdown of finished gold on hand.

For the year, gold production amounted to 521,980 ounces, beating the company’s guidance of  435,000 to 475,000 ounces.

“I am proud of the resilience, hard work and dedication shown by our people in realising this achievement despite a challenging operating environment,” said interim chief executive Peter Geleta.

“Over the last 12 months we have focused on successfully stabilising the business, including a return to free cash flow generation in Q2, and I am pleased to report that we end the year with a net cash balance of US$88 million.”

The export ban on gold and copper concentrates has been in place since April 2017.

Acacia’s majority shareholder Barrick Gold Corp has been negotiating with the Tanzania government on Acacia’s behalf but they are yet to agree on a final deal.

In October last year, a senior manager of Acacia’s Tanzanian businesses was arrested and charged by the Tanzanian Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB).  The manager pleaded not guilty to all charges, which were understood to have included counts of tax evasion, forgery and money laundering.

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