Israeli mining tycoon Beny Steinmetz is making a dramatic return to Guinea after the billionaire ended a bitter dispute with the West African country that brought his business empire to its knees.
The settlement, brokered by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, ends a seven-year-old dispute centered around one of the world’s richest mineral deposits that included a colorful list of characters from billionaire George Soros to former U.K. leader Tony Blair and mining heavyweights Rio Tinto Group and Vale SA.
After months of secret negotiations, Steinmetz’s BSG Resources Ltd. agreed with Guinean President Alpha Conde to withdraw allegations of corruption leveled against each other over years and to drop a two-year-old arbitration case over one of the world’s most-fabled mineral deposits — the Simandou iron-ore project.
Guinea also agreed to partner with mining grandee Mick Davis, who will develop the Zogota iron-ore mine once the disputes have been settled, marking a comeback for one of the industry’s biggest names.
The reconciliation puts Steinmetz, BSGR and Davis in prime position to lead the development of Guinea’s massive iron-ore reserves. Mining giants like Rio Tinto, Vale and Aluminum Corp. of China have all failed to develop projects in the country.
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