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22 Nov 2019

Le Monde with AFP

Guinea: An Asian-Guinean consortium wins the rights to exploit the huge Simandou iron ore deposit

[Excerpt translation from French to English provided by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre]

Guinea reassigns the exploitation of a huge iron ore deposit to an Asian-Guinean consortium", 14 November 2019.

The Asian and Guinean SMB consortium has announced...that it has obtained the exploitation in Guinea of two of the four blocks of one of the world's largest iron deposits...Guinea would have the world's largest untapped reserves of high-grade iron...which does not prevent it from being very poor...

At the end of the 2000s, the Guinean government had stripped the Anglo-Australian group Rio Tinto of the exploitation of Blocks 1 and 2 in favour of BSGR, a group of French-Israeli businessmen Beny Steinmetz... the Guinean government, claiming to suspect corruption, had cancelled BSGR's rights... In early 2019, Mr Steinmetz and Guinea announced an agreement, the first waiving rights on Simandou, the second abandoning the prosecution for corruption. However, legal proceedings have been opened in Switzerland against Mr Steinmetz for alleged bribes of several million dollars... Separate investigations have been launched in the United Kingdom and Australia against Rio Tinto for alleged corruption...

The SMB is a consortium formed by Singapore shipowner Winning Shipping, Chinese aluminium producer Shandong Weiqiao, the Yantaï Port group and the Guinean transport and logistics company United Mining Supply...Guinea is seeking to attract investors...Development through mining and hydroelectric power that also poses risks for the environment and biodiversity, notes the World Bank. Human Rights Watch has denounced the negative consequences on the environment and population of the growth of bauxite mining. SMB says it is part of a "responsible mining approach", promoting local benefits and supporting many agricultural projects by thinking of the "after-mining"...

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Guinea: An Asian-Guinean consortium wins the rights to exploit the huge Simandou iron ore deposit

Guinea: Simandou iron ore project