LONDON Dec 12 Rio Tinto said
on Monday it would defend itself robustly if rival miner BSG
Resources (BSGR) pursues a threat to file a law suit over mining
rights in Guinea.
Earlier BSGR said it had sent a "pre-action" letter to Rio
Tinto, alleging Rio Tinto contributed to the loss of its mining
rights in Simandou, the latest twist in two decades of attempts
to exploit the world's largest untapped iron ore reserves.
Rio Tinto faces a separate legal action from a former senior
executive, one of two sacked in November following an inquiry
into $10.5 million in payments to a consultant who helped Rio
win rights to develop iron ore lode in the Simandou mountains.
BSGR said that unless Rio Tinto gave a satisfactory response
to allegations set out in the letter by Jan. 3, 2017, and made
"proposals to compensate BSGR for the extensive loss and damage
suffered", proceedings would be issued without further notice.
Rio Tinto acknowledged receipt of the letter in an emailed
statement and said its lawyers would respond in due course.
"If BSGR ultimately brings a claim, Rio Tinto expects to
defend itself robustly," it said.
Rio Tinto acquired an exploration licence to develop blocks
in the Simandou mountains in 1997 but following years of
disputes over the rights and the difficulty of financing complex
infrastructure plans, Rio said in October it was selling its
stake in the project to Chinalco.
In November it announced the suspension and then sacking of
two top executives in connection with the Simandou project.
(Reporting by Barbara Lewis; Editing by Alexander Smith)