Guinea president - Vale did no wrong, can bid to reclaim mining permits

by Reuters
Wednesday, 30 April 2014 15:01 GMT

In this 2012 file photo, Guinea's President Alpha Conde arrives for a meeting with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Council of Ministers in Phnom Penh REUTERS/Samrang Pring

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GENEVA, April 30 (Reuters) - Guinea's President Alpha Conde said on Wednesday he would welcome a bid by Brazilian miner Vale VALE5.SA for re-allocation of mining permits because it had not been involved in the corruption that led to their cancellation.

The government this month accepted the report of a technical committee charged with reviewing Guinea's mining deals that recommended the cancellation of two iron ore concessions held by Vale and its joint venture partner BSG Resources.

The report accused BSGR, the mining branch of Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz's conglomerate, of obtaining the rights through corruption.

BSGR has denied the allegations and said it would seek international arbitration.

"We will launch an open and transparent bidding process ... Vale was not involved in the corruption or aware of it and we strongly hope that Vale will participate," Conde told reporters during a visit to Geneva.

"Vale can come back through the bidding process," he said.

Vale, the world's largest iron ore producer, entered into a joint venture with BSGR to mine the giant Simandou iron ore deposit and the nearby Zogota concession after the permits were acquired and has always denied any involvement in corruption.

With reserves of iron ore, gold, bauxite and diamonds, Guinea is one of Africa's richest countries in terms of resources, but it remains one of the world's poorest in terms of development, ranking 178th out of 187 countries in the U.N. Human Development Index last year.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Joe Bavier and Gareth Jones)

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