Barrick Gold Corporation (NYSE:GOLD) (TSX:ABX) says it has made significant progress in reshaping the Tanzanian operations it consolidated through the take-over of Acacia Mining in September last year in order to create a sustainable business capable of long-term value creation for its stakeholders.

At a signing ceremony with the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Dr John Pombe Magufuli, to formalize the establishment of a joint venture between Barrick and the government, Bristow said the joint venture, which will give the government full visibility of and participation in operating decisions made for and by the North Mara, Bulyanhulu and Buzwagi mines, was a pioneering move which would take Barrick’s policy of partnership with its host countries to a new level.

The agreement also ratifies the creation of Twiga Minerals Corporation, the management company jointly owned by the government and Barrick, that will oversee the management of Barrick’s local operations, which are now owned 84% by Barrick and 16% by the government. The deal provides for a 50/50 sharing in the economic benefits generated by the mining operations after the recoupment of capital investments.

Following today’s ceremony, there are a number of matters which Barrick and the government will work together to implement. In particular, Barrick will partner with the University of Dar es Salaam and commit up to $10 million in funding over a 10-year period for training and skills development in the mining industry, and will also commit up to $40 million to upgrade the road between Bulyanhulu and Mwanza as well as constructing a housing compound and related infrastructure.

“Since taking over the operatorship, we have been engaging with local communities to restore the mines’ social license to operate and we are cooperating closely with the authorities to address the environmental issues at North Mara. In addition, we are working on a local supplier strategy as well as a community development plan to create sustainable economic opportunities for the people around our mines”, Bristow said.

Bristow said that there was a strong focus on rationalizing and optimizing mine plans. Following the successful transition to owner mining at North Mara, this has already delivered a reduction in costs and an increase in free cash flow. A similar result is expected at Bulyanhulu, where an integrated study aimed at optimizing the complete orebody should kick-start the resumption of mining operations there later this year.

“Reflecting our confidence in the potential of this highly prospective gold region, we have budgeted $50 million for brown and greenfields exploration here in 2020 alone and are looking at various opportunities to sustain and expand our operations”, Bristow said.

In line with Barrick’s commitment to employing and advancing locals at its mines, Tanzanian nationals are being recruited and trained to replace expatriate employees as has been successfully done at Barrick’s other African operations. In addition, Acacia’s offices outside the country have been closed, and company records and day-to-day decision-making and accountability have been moved back to the operations in Tanzania.