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Canada's Barrick bullish on full-year gold guidance at DRC's Kibali gold mine

London — Canadian Barrick Gold's mining operations at the Kibali gold mine in Democratic Republic of Congo remain on track to meet its full-year 2019 production guidance, company CEO Mark Bristow said in a statement.

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"The Kibali gold mine remains on track at the year's halfway point to meet or beat its production forecast of 750,000 oz for 2019," Bristow said.

However, Bristow added Tuesday that he was concerned with the DRC's new mining code, which he said "puts the Congolese mining industry at risk and could discourage future investment." "Bristow is appealing to [DRC president-elect Felix] Tshisekedi's key priorities through Barrick's focus on infrastructure and local economic development," Verisk Maplecroft Africa analyst Indigo Ellis told S&P Global Platts Wednesday.

In March 2018, former DRC president Joseph Kabila signed a new mining code that raised royalties and taxes on mining operators and removed a clause that protected miners from changes to the fiscal and customs regime for 10 years.

International mining operators have opposed the new law.

"By keeping Tshisekedi onside with Barrick's priorities at Kibali, this will likely stand them in good stead when negotiating exemption from more onerous elements of the new mining code changes," Ellis said. "All of which are permitted through close consultation with the [DRC] prime minister." Ellis added that "the [DRC] prime minister holds the keys to elements of the mining code changes brought in in 2018, including which minerals will be deemed strategic and therefore subject to a 10% levy." "The [DRC] PM will also manage how assiduously provisions of the code are applied, including the planned increase in repatriation of profits for miners from 40% to 60%," Ellis said.

"We continue to engage with the government on this issue, and were encouraged when the new president, his excellency Felix Tshisekedi, outlined his vision, of attracting foreign investment," Bristow said.

Last March, Tshisekedi travelled to Washington in a bid to attract US and foreigninvestment.

"Tshisekedi has encouraged investors from all corners of the world into DR Congo,but those most forthcoming currently are Chinese [companies]," Ellis said.

Barrick Gold, the world's largest gold producer, holds a 45% stake in the Kibali gold mine joint venture, with AngloGold Ashanti holding 45% and Societe Miniere de KiloMoto with 10%.

-- Filip Warwick, filip.warwick@spglobal.com

-- Edited by James Leech, james.leech@spglobal.com