Local January 30, 2013 | 7:38 am

Bowing to pressure, Dominican Congress to review Barrick Gold contract

Santo Domingo.- The Chamber of Deputies will mull Barrick Gold’s Pueblo Viejo mine (central) contract, and pledged to seek a review of the agreement’s terms, Chamber president Abel Martinez announced Tuesday.

The announcement comes after months of pressure from various sectors, who note gold’s skyrocketing price in global markets.

He said Congress, in adherence with Article 93 of the Constitution, can "approve or disapprove the contracts submitted by the President of the Republic, in accordance with the provisions of article 128, paragraph 2), item d) and subsequent amendments or modifications that alter the conditions originally set out in the contracts at the time of legislative approval."

Martinez said the measure seeks more favorable terms for the country and the national interest. "Since the initial factors that led to the approval of this contract have changed, it is urgent for the sake of the country’s assets and the nation’s interest, which these terms are reviewed and the Chamber of Deputies will not rest until the country gets what is fair for such exploitation."

The lawmaker said his colleagues from all parties agree on the need for a review of the contract with Barrick, which earlier this month announced it will start marketing the mined gold.

Among the provisions he said would be revised is that when the company has recovered its entire investment, and has obtained 10 percent internal rate of return, it will begin to pay the government 28.75% interest on net profit and 25% tax on income.

Cotuí

Also to be reconsidered is that the multinational was allowed to increase its total investment from US$700 million to US$1.5 billion and, not satisfied with that, raised to US$2.6 billion, and, upon seeing no objection from its main partner, the investment was increased to US$3.5 billion. Curetntly there are reports of ratcheting it up to US$ 4.billion, without taking the country’s interests into account.

When the original contract was signed, gold sold for US$300 an ounce in global markets, and is currently at US$1,654 per ounce.

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