Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Junior Miners Play Major Role in West Africa Iron Ore Boom

But Giant Rio Tinto is Rumored to be Eying Entry into Sierra Leone by Backing Ex-Military Ruler and Opposition Party Presidential Candidate 



Chad Fraser reports that West Africa is on the verge of becoming one of the world's biggest iron ore producing regions, attracting both senior and junior mining firms. In fact, the juniors could be the key to the iron ore boom. Read more.

The role of the juniors is especially important in Sierra Leone. Industry sources say Rio Tinto, the world's second-largest producer of iron, is eager to enter the country and, in this regard, is rumored to be backing the main opposition party's presidential candidate, Julius Maada Bio, against incumbent President Ernest Bai Koroma in elections set for November. The multinational mining and metals behemoth was recently a sponsor of a prestigious conference in Montreal, Canada at which Bio spoke.

With the apparent exception of Rio Tinto, Koroma enjoys widespread support from the international community because of his reputation as a peaceful, pro-business leader--in sharp contrast with Bio, a controversial figure who served briefly as a military ruler during Sierra Leone's long civil war.

The Montreal conference website includes a biography of Bio that is noteworthy because the write-up transcends mere flattery to reveal an obvious political bias:
Bio does have a credible prospect of becoming President of Sierra Leone, once again, against the milieu of discontent and hardship currently afflicting this poor West African nation.