Gerald Group resolves iron ore dispute with Sierra Leone
Gerald Group, the US commodity trader, will pay Sierra Leone $20mn and cede a 10% stake in an iron ore project as part of the resolution to a nearly two-year dispute that led to the shutdown of production, the two sides revealed.
Gerald's wholly-owned subsidiary SL Mining filed for arbitration in August 2019 over a royalty payment dispute and suspended the Marampa mine the following month. Sierra Leone's government responded by cancelling its mining licence.
As part of the agreement signed on Friday, Sierra Leone will take a non-dilutable 10% stake in a new company that will replace SL Mining and resume operations at Marampa by June 1, Gerald said in a statement.
Gerald will make two $10mn payments this year and will have the immediate right to ship its current stockpile of about 707,000 tonnes of iron ore, it said.
Both sides will withdraw their legal claims before the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the statement added.
Gerald’s chairman and CEO Craig Dean commented: "I am delighted that we have been able to resolve our differences and have a fresh start and new beginning with the government of Sierra Leone."
Sierra Leone's Mines Minister Timothy Kabba told a news conference on Tuesday that the agreement was a milestone for the country.
"Whatever the pain we may have borne or dreaded throughout these two years ... this outcome justifies our action," he said.
Gerald estimates that Marampa holds about 1 billion tonnes of iron ore with a potential lifespan of 30 years.
Back in 2019, Dean spoke with Mining about the development of Marampa and commented: "SL Mining offers a substantial opportunity for Gerald Group as our Marampa mine in Sierra Leone is producing two million tonnes per annum of high grade iron ore in the first phase of development, with expansion possibilities of greater than six million tonnes per annum of high-grade iron ore during its operational life. If you analyse the iron ore market it has transformed, even from a couple of years ago when prices were very low. Now prices have stabilised we’re in a favourable position with our first shipments leaving for China.
"Our goal is to make ‘Marampa Blue’ an internationally recognised premium grade iron ore brand. We intend to expand the delivery of high-grade 65% iron ore concentrate to markets in Europe and Africa.”
Ivanhoe Mines copper set for China with Zijin, Citic deal
Ivanhoe Mines has inked significant deals with JV partner Zijin Mining and its subsidiary CITIC Metal to sell each 50% of the copper production from the recently launched first phase of its Kamoa-Kakula mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
The copper concentrate and blister copper off-take agreements will see wholly-owned Zijin unit Gold Mountains (H.K.) International Mining Co Ltd and CITIC Metal split the initial offtake from Kakula.
The DRC government has authorised exports to international markets and Ivanhoe has also announced a 10-year processing deal to utilise the DRC Lualuba smelter owned by CNMC.
CITIC Metal becomes Ivanhoe’s largest shareholder
Following a new share agreement, CITIC Metal will come to own 19.9% of Ivanhoe Mines’ issued and outstanding common shares when the placement is completed, establishing CITIC Metal as Ivanhoe’s largest single shareholder. Chairman and Founder Robert Friedland will be Ivanhoe’s second-largest shareholder, with over 17% shareholding.
Ivanhoe Mines intends to use the proceeds for the advancement of the company’s world-scale mine development projects in Southern Africa ─ Kamoa-Kakula, Platreef and Kipushi ─ and also for working capital and general corporate purposes.
CITIC Metal part of a bright future with Kamoa-Kakula’s potential to become the world’s highest-grade major copper mine
Friedland said the agreement with CITIC Metal is the culmination of a 15-year relationship between the leaderships of Ivanhoe Mines and CITIC.
“In 2003, the original Ivanhoe Mines was grappling with the challenge of developing its vast copper-gold discoveries at the Oyu Tolgoi Project in southern Mongolia. Following extensive discussions, Ivanhoe and CITIC established a strategic alliance to cooperatively pursue a number of selected common interests in metals production and related technologies.
“For some time now, the board of directors and senior management of today’s Ivanhoe Mines have been evaluating potential transactions that would combine the critical elements needed for Ivanhoe to advance the development of our exceptional assets that have been established in Southern Africa in recent years,” Friedland added.
“A fundamental, qualifying condition has been that any new partner must be complementary to our established partners, Zijin and the Japanese consortium led by ITOCHU Corporation. We are confident that CITIC Metal shares our vision and has the experience and financial resources to help us advance our three projects to production, creating value for Ivanhoe’s stakeholders in the DRC and South Africa, and our international shareholders.”