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Barrick Gold exploring sale of Acacia Mining stake, says new CEO

Barrick Gold Corp. is mulling options for its 64% interest in Acacia Mining PLC, including a possible sale, Reuters reported Jan. 2, citing new CEO Mark Bristow.

This comes as the company looks to resolve a prolonged tax dispute between the Tanzanian government and Acacia's operations in the country. Acacia operates the Bulyanhulu, Buzwagi and North Mara gold mines in the East African country.

The company's options also include splitting Acacia or a possible buyout. Bristow said the company will provide an update by the second week of February.

"This has been a very complex and challenging situation where no one has won. It's untenable and will be resolved," said Bristow.

In October 2017, Acacia struck a framework deal with Tanzania to pay US$300 million, give a 16% stake and split the economic benefits of its mines. The agreement has yet to be implemented.

Bristow, who previously headed Randgold Resources Ltd., took the helm at Barrick following the merger between the two companies. The merged entity has started trading on the NYSE and TSX under the Barrick name.

The executive plans to adopt Randgold's strategy to deploy maximum staff at mine sites rather than centralized offices. The new Barrick will focus on automating and streamlining both operations and management.

Just before closing the merger, Barrick reduced more than half of its workforce at the Toronto head office, while The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that technology-based teams at the gold producer's Toronto office and Nevada operations were either downsized or disbanded.

The company will also implement the strategy of using contractors for the jobs it does not have the skills for. Barrick will also retain ownership of its mines and ores, Bristow added.

The CEO said that legacy leaders from both Randgold and the original Barrick support his vision for a leaner company.