Conakry, Guinea — MININGREVIEW.COM — 23 June 2010 – Rio Tinto Group “’ the world’s third- largest mining company “’ must respect its obligations in Guinea or risk having its mining licence withdrawn, the West African nation’s mines minister has warned.
“The company sent a very arrogant letter to Guinean President Sekouba Konate about the Simandou iron-ore concession that Konate did not like,” minister Mahmoud Thiam said in a phone interview from here today.
He added that Konate had responded to Rio’s letter. “He sent them back another letter asking them to respect their obligations in Guinea, otherwise they will lose their mining licence and they will be left with only an exploration permit,” Thiam said.
A London-based spokesman for Rio Tinto couldn’t be reached immediately for comment on Thiam’s remarks.
Rio controlled the entire Simandou deposit until it was ordered by the government in December 2008 to hand over the northern half to closely held BSG Resources Limited. In April, Vale SA “’ the world’s biggest iron-ore exporter “’ agreed to pay US$2.5 billion (R18.75 billion) for deposits in Guinea including Rio’s confiscated assets. Rio CEO Tom Albanese in 2008 described Simandou as the world’s top” undeveloped iron-ore deposit.
Earlier today, Rio confirmed it had received a letter from the Guinean government and said that it would respond in due course.