The gold miner has been in discussions with Congo’s government over how to get the money out of the country for months. A resolution was close in January, but then the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Bristow said in a telephone interview.
Under Congo’s 2018 mining code, miners must repatriate 60% of revenue from mineral sales back into the Congo, to help develop Congo’s economy.
Barrick needs the $500-million in order to pay back loans and dividends, Bristow said. AngloGold Ashanti, which owns 45% of Kibali, is entitled to half the money after dividends are paid, he said.
AngloGold Ashanti declined to comment, referring Reuters back to Barrick.
In May, Bristow had said the issue of the $500-million “keeps us awake at night”.
Barrick’s push to get the money out comes as Congo’s economy is under significant strain from the pandemic, with foreign currency reserves shrinking and mining companies taking longer to repatriate the 60% of mineral sales.
“Unfortunately, we have noted that repatriation of the 60% is currently erratic,” mines minister Willy Kitobo Samsoni told Reuters, adding he had warned mining companies to repatriate that capital immediately, or risk sanctions as set out in the mining code.
Delayed repatriation of funds is among the pressures facing the mining sector, a critical contributor to Congo’s economy, Samsoni said on Saturday.