Conakry, Guinea — MININGREVIEW.COM — 30 December 2008 – The Rio Tinto Group is to initiate talks with Guinea’s new rulers after the military junta that seized power last week said all mining contracts would be cancelled. Meanwhile NRW Holdings Ltd. – an Australian mining contractor working in Guinea for Rio Tinto Group – is proceeding with its operations.
Rio Tinto spokesman Jordan Feilders was quoted by Bloomberg News here as saying: “The legal agreements with the government represent a win-win situation for the development of the Simandou project that benefits both the people and the government of Guinea, as well as our company.”
In Perth, NRW Holdings company secretary Kim Hyman said in a telephone interview: “For us, it’s business as usual. Staff are still working in the office in Conakry and at the Simandou project, some 1 300 km away,” he added, “and we believe Rio has instigated discussions with the military junta.”
Rio Tinto spokesman Gervase Greene wasn’t available for comment when contacted on his cell and office phones in Perth.
The military junta canceled all mining agreements in the West African nation on Saturday, following the death of President Lasana Conte earlier this month. The junta has ruled out elections for two years and imposed a nationwide curfew, following its seizure of power a week ago, a day after Conte died.
Rio – the world’s third-largest mining company – has told its workers in the country to stay at home, and Melbourne-based BHP Billiton – the largest mining company – has temporarily closed its office in Conakry. AngloGold Ashanti Limited, which owns the Siguiri gold mine in Guinea, is continuing its operations.