Acacia Mining searches for chairman as Dushnisky leaves for AngloGold

Acacia Mining (LON:ACA), the Tanzanian gold producer dealing with an ongoing dispute with the country’s president, is losing its chairman.

Kelvin Dushnisky, who leaves Acacia and its parent company Barrick Gold (TSX, NYSE:ABX), will become South Africa’s AngloGold Ashanti (JSE:ANG) (NYSE:AU) new boss.

He will be replaced on interim basis by Rachel English, one of Acacia’s non-executive directors, Acacia said.

The company, Tanzania's No.1 gold miner, is still waiting for its largest shareholder, Barrick Gold, to reach an agreement with the East African nation’s government and so end a running dispute over taxes that has severely hit its bottom line.

The company, Tanzania's No.1 gold miner, is still waiting for its largest shareholder, Barrick Gold, to reach an agreement with the East African nation.

Barrick, which has been negotiating on Acacia’s behalf with the Tanzanian government for over a year, has been unable to make a final deal for Acacia’s board to vote on, which was expected to happen by the end of June.

The country accuses Acacia of understating its production and seized last year containers of gold and copper concentrate ready for export. The move was followed shortly after by a $190-billion tax bill.

Barrick, which owns 63.9% of Acacia, struck a framework agreement in October that was supposed to end the tax row. The deal would see the company giving Tanzania a 16% stake in three gold mines operated by Acacia, a one-off payment of $300 million (£227.6 million), and a 50:50 partnership with the government to split “economic benefits” from operations.

In the nine-months of talks between Barrick and Tanzania, Acacia Mining has seen its chief executive and finance director both leave. Shares in the company, in the meantime, have dropped more than 78%.

Dushnisky was considered the second most senior executive among Barrick’s management team, as the gold miner did away with the chief executive position a few years ago.

“The Board will continue to consider opportunities for additional Board appointments as part of its orderly succession planning processes, and to ensure that it retains the appropriate balance and expertise to meet Acacia’s business objectives,” Acacia said in the statement.

The company, which owns and operates Tanzania’s three major mines — Bulyanhulu, Buzwagi and North Mara, noted it would announce a permanent successor to Dushnisky in due course.