* Acacia shares have nearly halved since export ban began
* Govt audit committee recommends review of mining laws
(Recasts, adds shares, quotes)
By Fumbuka, Ng'wanakilala and Zandi Shabalala
DAR ES SALAAM/LONDON, June 12 Acacia Mining
on Monday disputed the outcome of a second audit by the
Tanzanian government which said the company had underdeclared
revenues and tax payments for years and by billions of dollars,
sending its shares 13 percent lower.
The investigation committee, commissioned by President John
Magufuli, recommended that the gold miner pay outstanding taxes
and royalties, and called for a review of mining laws and
government ownership in mines.
"Acacia strongly refutes these new unfounded accusations. We
have always conducted our business to the highest standards and
operated in full compliance with Tanzanian law," the
London-listed company, Tanzania's biggest miner and largest
foreign investor, said in a statement.
Acacia has been caught up in Magufuli's campaign to reform
the mining industry, a key source of foreign exchange for the
East African country. The sector accounts for about 4 percent of
Tanzania's gross domestic product.
Tanzania banned the export of unprocessed ore in March and
has pushed for the construction of a local smelter.
Shares in Acacia Mining had fallen 13 percent to 261.78
pence in London by 1433 GMT. Acacia's value has nearly halved
since the export ban took effect.
"Enough is enough ... we need investors, but not this kind
of exploitation. We are supposed to share profits," Magufuli
said in a televised address.
He said the investigation also found Acacia was not
registered to operate in Tanzania and that the country lost up
to 108.5 trillion shillings ($49 billion) in revenue from
exports of gold and copper concentrates between 1998 and 2017.
The first audit committee, reviewing exports of gold and
copper concentrate, said last month it had found 10 times more
gold in Acacia's containers than the company had declared as
well as undeclared minerals such as iron and sulphur.
The chairman of the investigating team, Nehemia Osoro, said
in a televised presentation to the president that the government
must own stakes in all large mining projects and recommended a
review of all mining contracts and laws.
Investec analyst Hunter Hillcoat called the committee's
findings "implausible", adding that the motives of the Tanzanian
government were unclear.
"Whether that motive is nationalization or a grab for more
taxes or a share of the mines - no one knows yet. The market is
understandably pricing in risk."
Acacia said it remained open to talking with the government.
Magufuli said if Acacia "confess that they have been looting
the country, the government is ready to do business".
Barrick Gold, which owns 63.9 percent of Acacia,
said in a statement it believed a negotiated resolution would be
the best outcome to the dispute.
($1 = 2,233.0000 Tanzanian shillings)
(Writing by Duncan Miriri and Zandi Shabalala; Editing by
Edmund Blair and Dale Hudson)