Barrick Gold Chairman Thornton speaks during the annual general meeting for shareholders in Toronto.

INTERNATIONAL – Acacia Mining said on Monday it swung back to profit in 2018 as its gold production and costs beat expectations even as a longstanding tax dispute rumbled on in Tanzania.

The London-listed miner, whose shares rose 3.5 percent, said in a statement that basic earnings per share totalled 14.4 cents compared to a loss of 172.5 cents a year earlier.

In 2018, gold production was 521,980 ounces at an all-in sustaining cost of $905 (R12 422) per ounce. Both of those figures were lower than in 2017 but ahead of expectations.

Acacia, majority owned by Barrick Gold, expects production in 2019 to be 500,000 to 550,000 ounces at a cost of $860 to $920 per ounce.

The gold miner is in a two-year-long tax dispute with Tanzania’s government where it operates all of its mines and has been banned from exporting mineral concentrates which have forced it to cut output.

Acacia’s shares are up more than 50 percent since Barrick’s takeover of Randgold was announced on Sept. 24, mainly on expectations that Barrick’s new chief executive, Mark Bristow, would soon broker a deal with the government.

“We continue to provide support to Barrick in its discussions with the government of Tanzania and believe that a negotiated resolution is in the best interests of all stakeholders,” Acacia interim CEO Peter Geleta said in a statement.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) was $48 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, in line with expectations.