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B2Gold begins arbitration against Mali over mining permit

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June 24 (Reuters) - Canadian gold miner B2Gold Corp said on Thursday it has begun international arbitration against Mali in a months-long dispute over the West African country's denial of a mining permit extension requested by the company.

The Menankoto permit covers an area located 20 km north of B2Gold's Fekola mine, which is in southwest Mali on the border with Senegal. B2Gold has invested about $27 million in exploration over the last seven years.

The previous government, which was ousted in a military takeover last month, had granted an exploration permit held by B2Gold to a little-known domestic company in March.

The permit was up for grabs again in May when the ousted Prime Minister Moctar Ouane issued a decree cancelling the decision.

However, the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water informed the Canadian miner that its application for permit was rejected because it was subject of a court decision, the company said on June 18.

The miner said it remains committed to talks with the government to resolve the issue even as the international arbitration proceedings were launched.

B2Gold said operations at the Fekola mine, which is on a different permit, are continuing normally. (Reporting by Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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