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.

STORY

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

BLANTYRE -
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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