Mali to raise share in mines

2012-01-23 22:37

Bamako - Mali is seeking to raise the state share in mining projects to 25% from 20% in a proposed revision to the West African gold producer's mining law, a senior official at the state regulator told Reuters on Monday.

The revision, which must be passed by parliament, would also trim taxes on mining income to 25% from 35%, the official from the National Directorate of Geology and Mines (DNGM) said by telephone, asking not to be named.

Mali is Africa's third-largest gold miner behind South Africa and Ghana, with major foreign operators including Resolute Mining, Anglogold, Iamgold, and Randgold.

The official said companies with existing mining contracts would not be required to alter their terms if the new proposals are adopted, but that they could do so if they wished to take advantage of the lower tax on income.

He added that the new proposal boosting state share in projects would give the government the right to hand over five percent of its increased stake to a domestic private company, a measure aimed supporting local business.

Mali's Mines Minister Amadou Cisse said earlier on Monday over national radio that the mining code revisions were being considered by the National Assembly.

He said the proposed changes would require mining companies to sign community development deals with local leaders before winning new titles, but he did not mention any changes to state ownership or taxes.

"This means that the company will commit to providing things for the community, wells, roads, health clinics, schools, and this would be outlined in a framework document signed by the company and the municipality," he said.

Mali had announced in May plans to overhaul the mining law, saying it hoped the move would streamline procedures for acquiring exploration and mining permits and lure renewed investment.

Mali's gold revenues surged in 2011 by more than 20% tracking a rise in gold prices, though production slipped to about 43.5 tons from over 46 tons in 2010. The largely desert country relies on gold for about 70% of export revenues and 15% of gross domestic product.

Officials from Resolute, Anglogold, Iamgold and Randgold were not immediately available to comment.