Dar es Salaam. Barrick Gold Corp. and Glencore Plc,who own the recently cancelled Kabanga nickel prospecting licence, hope to regain it in a new application process, according to news reports.
Bloomberg news agency quoted a Barrick official confirming that the firms have tendered an application with the government of Tanzania for the joint licence to develop the nickel fields in Ngara and Kagera.
“Glencore and Barrick expect to receive a Prospecting Licence and look forward to continuing the constructive relationship that exists with both the Government of Tanzania, and the communities in the area of the project,” Barrick spokesman Andy Lloyd said.
However, in Dar es Salaam, officials were non-committal on the said fresh application or whether the prospecting license will be reverted to the same two companies for further development.
The chairman of the newly established Mineral Commission, Prof Idris Kikula, told The Citizen yesterday that the fate of the cancelled retention licences, including the one for Kabanga nickel, would be determined by the Treasury Registrar.
“All the revoked licences were returned to the treasury after the new mining regime rendered them unenforceable,” said Prof Kikula in a telephone interview.
He said he did not know whether Barrick or Glencore had applied to the treasury for the licence.
According to Bloomberg, Barrick and Glencore officials had held “productive” talks with the government during the past several months over the Kabanga nickel project. Barrick and Glencore applied for a prospecting license to replace the retention license they previously held on the undeveloped project since 2009.
The retention license was due to expire in 2019. Mr Lloyd said the new license would be valid for the next four years.
A source at Barrick’s sister company Acacia, in Dar es Salaam, told The Citizen that the were looking forward to re-applying for the licence, which was among 10 other retention licences for nickel, gold, silver, copper and rare-earth exploration that were cancelled last week. According to the source who requested not to be named as he was not the company’s spokesperson, plans to develop the Ngara nickel fields were shelved after cheap discoveries of the same in Indonesia.
He said at the time, Tanzania laws allowed companies to seek for the retention licences to extend the development period over market or economic conditionality.
The government last July suspended the issuance of all new mining licenses until the new mining commission was in place. The commission has since opened up fresh application for all interested companies to explore and mine in Tanzania.