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6135p -169.0  -2.7%

Last Trade - 14/05/21

Sector
Basic Materials
Size
Large Cap
Market Cap £99.32bn
Enterprise Value £103.19bn
Revenue £31.65bn
Position in Universe 13th / 1826

Governments from Mongolia to Mali seek to reopen mining deals

Wed 17th February, 2021 7:49pm
* Governments face uphill struggle to change deals 
    * Negotiations, disputes with mining firms can drag on 
    * Mongolia's deal with Rio Tinto 'not likely to change'
    * Mali says it is waiting too long for mining dividends

    By Jeff Lewis and Helen Reid
    TORONTO/JOHANNESBURG, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Some resource-rich
developing countries are seeking to rewrite mining contracts and
accelerate dividend payouts, which can take years to materialize
under deals that experts said are tilted in companies' favor.
    Any move to renegotiate agreements will trigger pushback by
miners wary of threats to their profit margins, experts said,
and previous attempts have caused protracted disputes.
    Mongolia became the latest country to demand better terms,
asking for more tax revenue from Rio Tinto's  RIO.L  RIO.AX  Oyu
Tolgoi copper-gold mine while it waits for dividends. In West
Africa, Mali has said it would try to reopen mining contracts
that leave the state waiting years for dividend payments.
    "What we're asking for today is for African countries to be
able to benefit more from their mineral production," said
Abdoulaye Pona, president of Mali's Chamber of Mines. 
    The historical power imbalance between mineral-rich but
cash-poor countries and multinational mining companies has left
a legacy of bad deals that have been overly generous to
investors, said Alexandra Readhead, tax and extractives lead at
the International Institute for Sustainable Development.
    The financial strain governments are under from the COVID-19
pandemic could lead to stricter implementation of existing tax
laws and closer scrutiny of deals, Readhead said.
    Governments are pushing for speedier payouts as prices for
metals from gold  XAU=  to copper  CMCU3  scale multiyear highs,
signaling what investment bankers said is the start of another
commodity supercycle.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2KM1KR
    Glencore  GLEN.L  remains at odds with the Democratic
Republic of Congo nearly three years after the country signed a
new mining code into law, CEO Ivan Glasenberg said on Tuesday.
The 2018 code hiked royalties on cobalt, copper and gold.  
    "We are still in discussions with the government... we have
not accepted the change from the old code to the new code,"
Glasenberg told investors on a call.
    
    'NOT LIKELY TO CHANGE'
    Mongolia, which owns 34% of the Oyu Tolgoi mine, is unlikely
to get dividends until 2051 based on Rio's latest cost estimate
for an underground expansion, a source familiar with
negotiations said. 
    Delays and rising costs have eroded the expected benefits of
the project, the state argued. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2KE22P 
    Rio, whose majority-owned Turquoise Hill Resources  TRQ.TO 
owns the rest of the mine, declined to comment.
    Some are skeptical Mongolia's government will win better
terms under a new pact, given that previous agreements limit its
taxation powers.
    "It's not likely to change to their benefit," said Vincent
Kiezebrink at the Netherlands-based Centre for Research on
Multinational Corporations. 
    In Mali, the transitional government is reviewing mining
deals after the auditor general last year identified problems
including "non-distribution of dividends" in the contracts.
 urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL8N2HM085
    In September, Barrick Gold  ABX.TO  unit SOMILO paid its
first dividend to Mali, 15 years after production at the Loulo
mine started and a year after the auditor general criticised the
firm for not paying dividends. 
    Barrick did not respond to questions. The Loulo mine is part
of the Loulo-Gounkoto gold-mining complex, West Africa's
biggest, and Barrick said the project generated $240 million in
dividends for 2020.
    CEO Mark Bristow has said he does not expect major changes
to mining deals in Mali.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N2HR2Y8 
    Last year Mali's auditor general demanded Resolute Mining
 RSG.AX  pay dividends to the state, a 20% shareholder in the
Syama mine which started producing in late 2008.
    Resolute's Mali subsidiary SOMISY will begin paying
dividends to the government once it reaches profitability, the
company told Reuters. 
    While pushing for reforms, countries in need of investment
must still tread carefully, Pona at Mali's Chamber of Mines
said.
    "You can't create a (mining) code which will make mining
companies avoid your country," he said.

 (Reporting by Helen Reid and Jeff Lewis; Editing by Cynthia
Osterman)
 ((Helen.Reid@thomsonreuters.com; +27 66 156 5214;))
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