Friday, May 23, 2008

Chinafrica (17) Watching for PRC Influence in Africa


New report (in English and Chinese):China's Environmental Footprint in Africa[announcement from Peter Bosshard's policy blog:]

A new report written by your blogger discusses China's environmental footprint in Africa. This is a hot topic, and the report has already triggered controversial reactions.Chinese companies are building large mines and hydropower plants, textile factories and cell phone networks throughout Africa. Their projects include 26 large dams (and counting). China's environmental footprint in Africa has stirred a heated debate on the continent and in Western countries. Some observers have denounced China as a new colonizer whose "ravenous appetite" is devouring Africa's resources. Others have rejected such concerns as a "frightening heap of nonsense", and have pointed out the parallels between the Chinese and the Western role in Africa.Over the last few months, I have written a paper which looks beyond the stereotypes. "Chinas Environmental Footprint in Africa" examines China's Africa strategy, and analyzes similarities and differences with the Western approach. The paper elaborates the environmental impacts of Chinas strategy, describes the evolving response of the Chinese government, and identifies challenges for actors in Africa, China, and the West.Earlier drafts of the paper have sparked a lot of comment, including some controversy. Readers from NGOs in China and Africa, US universities and the World Bank praised the report as balanced, thorough, and convincing. A retired Chinese-American entrepreneur, on the other hand, called the paper "sensationalist" and told me that "from the severity of the commentary, I almost expected you to call China the evil empire".A "nicely balanced piece", or a sensationalist effort at China bashing? Find out for yourself! My paper is being published as a Policy Brief by the South African Institute for International Affairs, and as a Working Paper by the School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University. A Chinese version of the paper will soon be published by Fahamu in South Africa.

You can already download the paper from our website (, in English and Chinese, and order it from Enjoy reading, and we look forward to your comments.Peter BosshardInternational Rivers

The Russians are Coming

Severstal buys assets in Africa

RBC, 23.05.2008, London 13:15:36.
Severstal has reached an agreement on the acquisition of up to 61.5 percent of African Iron Ore Group Ltd. (AIOG) shares, the Russian steel producer said in a press release today. AIOG's subsidiaries have a license for conducting a geological survey at the Putu Range iron ore deposit in Liberia. In addition, Severstal is expected to buy a 6.29-percent stake in Mano River Resources Inc., which holds a controlling stake in AIOG. The Russian company is to pay $37.5m for the stake in AIOG, while the price of the second deal is estimated at GBP 2m (USD 3.9m). Both deals will be implemented through Severstal's Dutch subsidiary Lybica Holding B.V.

According to preliminary estimates, the Putu Range deposit contains at least 500m tonnes of iron ore, while the figure may rise considerably following the geological survey.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

750km of Liberian Territory v. Stranded Investment in Guinea

More tantalizing hints

“The deposits are located in the south east of the country very close to the border with Liberia and 750km away from the sea.”

Story follows; but when will Rio-Tinto reveal their relationship with Acelor-Mittal. Is it too soon for transparency? Could it be that the Liberian People have been cut out of the deal already. We are still waiting for the answers. We will not forget the mysterious circumstances during the bidding on the old LAMCO mine…. Rio-Tinto backed out leaving the deal on the table for Mittal. It is a matter of record. But, why? Hint: 750km of Liberian territory and a stranded investment in Guinea.


Rio Tinto eyes Chinese investors to partner it in Guinea iron ore projectRio Tinto has already spent US$300 million on its Simandou iron ore project but the company still eyes investors from China to partner it as it moves to develop the 170 million tonne per annum mine.

Author: Frank Jomo
Posted: Friday , 16 May 2008

The world's second largest producer of iron ore - Rio Tinto - says it will be courting Chinese steel and construction companies to partner it in developing the US$6 billion Simandou iron ore mine in the West African state of Guinea.

Rio Tinto, itself being the subject of a hostile takeover by rival, BHP Billiton, would make a final decision whether to go ahead with the mine in 2009.

But head of Rio's iron ore division Sam Walsh told the Financial Times that he was optimistic of bringing Chinese investors into the project later this year and that the company's preference would be to have a steel company that is allied to a construction company. He said the Chinese steelmaker would agree to buy a portion of Simandou's output on a long-term off-take contract while a Chinese construction group would be valuable in making sure the mine is built on schedule and on budget, at a time of rising costs.

The Simandou deposit is touted to be one of Africa's largest iron ore deposits estimated at between eight and 11 billion tonnes and made up of high grade haematite, which has a 65 percent iron content.

However to tap these huge deposit, Rio Tinto will have to part with a fortune. The deposits are located in the south east of the country very close to the border with Liberia and 750km away from the sea. In addition poor infrastructure in the country might prove a spanner in Rio's works to develop the mine into one of the world's great iron mines.

For now though, the miner seems set to roll on the project having spent US$300 million on it. The company announced recently that its pre-feasibility study into the development of a 70 million tonne per annum mine at Simandou is well advanced. Rio says the development of the mine would make it one of the largest iron ore mines in the world and that there are future plans to make it even larger, to 170 million tonnes per annum.

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