GUINEA’S President, Alpha Condé. Evidence of vote rigging in his election in 2010 is likely to surface at a World Bank tribunal, sources say, following a dispute between Guinea’s government and mining group BSG Resources. Photo: Wiki

GUINEA’S President, Alpha Condé. Evidence of vote rigging in his election in 2010 is likely to surface at a World Bank tribunal, sources say, following a dispute between Guinea’s government and mining group BSG Resources. Photo: Wiki

 
 

BSG: Simandou to Reveal Vote Rigging by Guinea's President

Issue 100, October 2014

Election rigging is at the heart of an escalating legal battle over the Simandou iron ore project in Guinea, according to BSG Resources, the private mining arm of diamond tycoon Beny Steinmetz.

BSGR was awarded the rights to two of Simandou’s four mining blocks in 2006 after they were stripped from Rio Tinto, sparking a law suit lodged by Rio this year, corruption enquiries in Guinea and a request for arbitration by BSGR at the World Bank.

As accusations of bribery have piled up against BSGR, including a $200m bribe allegedly paid to Guinea’s former mining minister, it has avoided commenting on the case without legal privilege. Speaking to Global Mining Observer this week however, director Dag Cramer said there was “not one shred of evidence” to support Rio’s claims and that BSGR was confident of regaining its Guinean assets, stripped from the group in April.

BSGR “successfully navigated several regimes” in Guinea, Cramer says, and had committed $10bn of investment to the country alongside its partner Vale, a vast investment relative to Guinea’s $6bn GDP. Rio Tinto conversely has sat on rights to Simandou for 17 years and is yet to deliver a DFS feasibility study for the project. 

$1bn Rail Deal

Cramer says BSGR’s problems in the country began when it refused to allocate a $1bn railway refurbishment deal to contractors linked to Guinea’s president, Alpha Condé. Vale had instead assigned the spending to Brazilian conglomerate, Odebrecht.

“If I look back to when the problems started,” Cramer says, “that was the time. That’s when they started putting the screws on us.”

Rio Tinto had meanwhile struck a $700m amnesty with Guinea in 2011, securing its share of Simandou, whilst Russian aluminium giant Rusal paid Guinea $832m last year, ending a bauxite dispute. BSGR never made a similar payment and maintained in negotiations with the presidency that its rights were already ratified by parliament. Condé responded with...

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“That’s when they started putting the screws on us.”

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