Perth, Australia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 08 September 2008 – Sphere Investments Limited – a West African-focused iron ore company listed on the Australian Securities Exchange and the Dubai International Financial Exchange – has, together with its Mauritanian joint venture partner Société Nationale Industrielle et Minière (SNIM), shortlisted two international investment banks to conduct a tender process to secure a new strategic partner for its Guelb el Aouj iron ore project in Mauritania.
In a letter to the Australian Securities Exchange, the company said that, following final evaluation of the two shortlisted candidates and negotiation of terms, it was expected that a mandate would be signed with the successful bank later this month.
The advanced Guelb el Aouj project is a 50:50 joint venture between Sphere and SNIM, Mauritania’s stateowned iron ore producer. SNIM has been reliably supplying iron ore to the European market since 1963. Sphere’s Mauritanian subsidiary, which recently replaced the joint venture structure, is now owned equally by Sphere and SNIM, and is to be renamed El Aouj Mining Company (EMC).
Last week in Nouakchott, EMC Board members met with ministry and government officials who have offered their full support and commitment to the project, following Qatar Steel’s recent decision to withdraw. The decision to appoint of an investment bank followed expressions of interest to participate in the project that have been received from international mining houses and steelmaking companies since Qatar Steel’s withdrawal.
The project involves a world class magnetite resource which is initially expected to produce 7 Mt/a of DR grade pellets from the proven reserves at Guelb el Aouj East, and has the potential for staged expansions up to 28 Mtpa, based on the extensive resources within the 30 year mining licence that is held by EMC.