Mali's new mining code shortens stability period to 10 years -ministry

BAMAKO, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Under a new mining code, companies operating in Mali will be protected from fiscal changes for 10 years, down from the previous "stability period" of 30 years, a senior mines ministry official told Reuters on Friday.

On Wednesday, the ministry announced the new code, which also ended an exemption from value-added tax during production, but did not specify by how much it would shorten the period under which firm's investments are protected from changes to fiscal and customs regimes.

Companies operating in the country include Barrick Gold Corp (GOLD) , B2Gold (BTG), Hummingbird Resources and AngloGold Ashanti.

Lassana Guindo, a technical advisor at the ministry who is in charge of the new code, said the shorter stability period was in line with regional norms.

"In the sub-region, Mali was one of the few countries to have a long (stability period)," he said.

The new code is an opening salvo in what could be a protracted negotiation between the government and corporates over mining regulation in Africa's third-largest gold producer. The move is seen by some as a new instance of resource nationalism on the continent.

(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo Writing by Alessandra Prentice; editing by David Evans)

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