B2Gold not buying Zimbabwe project, not interested in M&A

Shamva gold mine. (Image courtesy of Metallon Corp.)

Mid-tier Canadian miner B2Gold (TSX:BTO)(NYSE: BTG) on Friday dismissed reports indicating it was mulling the acquisition of an idled gold mine in Zimbabwe, emphasizing it was not currently interested in any mergers or acquisitions.

Chief executive Clive Johnson reiterated B2Gold’s long-term growth strategy by saying that in addition to developing its existing pipeline of projects, the company continued to seek global exploration opportunities.

“Spread the word – no M&A from us,” Johnson told analysts on the miner’s earnings call on May 8, when reported total gold of 230,859 ounces, about 6% above plan. “We’re not going to pay for ounces,” he added.

“Spread the word: no M&A from us” — Chief executive, Clive Johnson

Bloomberg News reported on May 23 that the Vancouver-based miner wanted to add Metallon Corp.’s  Shamva gold mine to its portfolio. The article added that B2Gold would bid if it were exempted from a law in Zimbabwe that requires producers to sell all the metal to the country’s central bank.

The country’s two main miners – Metallon and RioZim – are suing the central bank over its payment arrangements. Gold miners are required by law to sell their output to Fidelity Printers, an arm of the Reserve Bank, which then pays them back partly in dollars and partly in local quasi-currency that cannot be traded outside of Zimbabwe.

Mining is the biggest source of foreign exchange for Zimbabwe, which has the world’s largest platinum reserves after South Africa. It is also known for its diamonds, though alluvial deposits are almost depleted, and it’s said to have eight out of nine “rare earth” minerals and a processing capacity for gold, diamond and chrome.

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