Barrick CEO Bristow praises Zambian Government following mining reform pledges

Barrick Gold CEO Mark Bristow has described Zambia’s President as a ‘breath of fresh of air’ after meeting the recently ordained Hakainde Hichilema at the 2022 Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town.

Hichilema’s government has embarked on a number of business-friendly reforms since his election in August 2021 and pledged to boost growth and repair relations with mining companies, which had deteriorated amid attempts by the former regime to increase royalty taxes on miners.

In a speech during a presidential address at Mining Indaba yesterday, Hichilema rejected the previous government’s policy of resource nationalism. “Let me reiterate, our government support empowerment without resource nationalism,” he told the audience.

“He is a breath of fresh air,” Bristow said at Indaba following Hichilema’s address. “Zambia is a good story,” he added. Barrick continues to operate the giant Lumwana copper mine in Zambia, despite it being a rumoured divestment following the merger with Randgold Resources in 2019.

Now, the world’s second largest gold producer is looking to add more Zambian assets to its portfolio, according to a Bloomberg report. Zambia is Africa’s second largest producer of copper, a strategic metal in the eyes of Bristow and leading economists around the world.

The central African copperbelt runs through Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), another jurisdiction Barrick is focusing its exploration efforts on. “We’ve tried to invest both in the gold industry and more recently in the copper industry,” Bristow said. “We’ll find opportunities because DRC is so well endowed.”