The “Sahara Express”
transports iron ore
700 km across the Sahara
from the country’s
mines to the coast
 
Nouakchott, Mauritania — MININGREVIEW.COM — 25 November, 2008 – Mauritania’s state-owned iron ore mining company has no intention of slowing down its investment programme, despite the international financial crisis which has led to slashed prices and tight credit conditions.

“I am not sure that in a period of crisis the right strategy would be to stop investing,” said Ousmane Kane, who took over as managing director of Societe Nationale Industrielle et Miniere (SNIM) this month. “We should carry on with investments so that when international demand picks up again we can respond to it,” he told Reuters in an interview here.

Reuters reports that SNIM is the world’s seventh-largest supplier of iron ore, and accounts for around 40% of Mauritania’s export earnings.

World iron ore prices have fallen more than 60% in the last six months as the global financial crisis slows the pace of building and industrial production. This has forced steelmakers and iron ore miners to cut output, but Kane said SNIM was unaffected so far.

“The crisis has not impacted on SNIM’s day-to-day operations for the moment,” he said.

The world’s three biggest iron ore miners, Vale, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, have all cut capacity this quarter.

Within the next two years, SNIM plans to spend US$600 million (R6.3 billion) on a new ore enrichment plant at Zouerate, and US$150 million (R1.6 billion) on a new port at Nouadibhou, from where most of its output is shipped, Kane said.