File picture: Carl De Souza

DAR ES SALAAM – Acacia Mining said on Monday its fourth-quarter production exceeded expectations despite the ban on export of gold and copper concentrates imposed by the Tanzanian government since 2017.

A statement released by the gold mining giant which has been in a long-running dispute with Tanzanian authorities over undeclared royalties said it recorded a fourth-quarter gold production of about 130,581 ounces. 

The number brings the total gold production for the full year to 521 980 ounces, said Peter Geleta, Acacia Mining Interim chief executive officer. 

He added that this is substantially ahead of the company's initial production guidance for the 2018 year of 435 000 to 475 000 ounces. However, the statement said production was generally still down by 12 percent compared to a year earlier, reflecting the impact of the ban. 

Production was lower due to the transitioning of its Buzwagi mine to a stockpile processing operation, partly offset by higher output at the North Mara and Bulyanhulu mines, said the statement.

"I am proud of the resilience, hard work and dedication shown by our people in realizing this achievement despite a challenging operating environment," said the chief executive. 

The export ban on gold and copper concentrates imposed by the government has been in place since April 2017 and is said to have impacted the miner's books of account negatively. Acacia's majority shareholder Barrick Gold Corp has been negotiating with the government on Acacia's behalf but they are yet to agree on a final deal.