Diversified mining giant Rio Tinto will “robustly” defend itself against any legal action by BSG Resources (BSGR) - owned by the notorious Israeli mining figure Beny Steinmetz - which is reportedly planning to sue the company over its alleged contribution to the loss of BSG’s mining rights for the Simandou iron-ore project in Guinea, writes Mining Weekly. BSG is reportedly seeking billions of dollars in damages. “If BSG Resources ultimately brings a claim, Rio Tinto expects to defend itself robustly,” a spokesperson for the company told Mining Weekly Online. BSG and Rio Tinto have been engaged in a dispute over the Simandou asset for about a decade. Beny Steinmetz is a prominent name in the Panama Papers, precisely because of the highly suspicious way BSGR acquired the rights to mine the northern part of Simandou in the first place between 2008-2009, as well as for the groups diamond deals in Sierra Leone.
Mining Weekly writes, "The BSG action comes shortly after Rio Tinto sacked two of its top executives following the discovery of an email chain relating to the $10.5-million payment to an adviser who assisted the company in winning the rights to the Simandou project." They add that Newswire Reuters reported previously that Steinmeitz had said the suspension of Rio Tinto executives over Simandou proved that there was a plot to strip BSG Resources of its rights to the iron-ore project, which has the potential to double the size of Guinea’s economy. Rio Tinto in October sold its stake in Simandou iron-ore project to Chinese company Chinalco for between $1.1-billion and $1.3-billion, after shelving project development plans in July, owing to the global iron-ore oversupply and challenges in securing financing for the project.