Guinea Says Working to Stop Rio From Stalling $20 Billion Mine

Guinea said it’s doing everything it can to prevent Rio Tinto Group from stalling the development of the world’s largest untapped iron ore deposit, after the company signaled it will delay building the $20 billion mine and related infrastructure because of low prices.

“Our objective is to develop the project as fast as possible and we are making sure that a partner cannot freeze it,” Abdoulaye Magassouba, the West African nation’s mining minister, told reporters Wednesday in the capital, Conakry.

Jean-Sebastien Jacques, CEO of the second-biggest mining company, told the Times newspaper earlier this month that he doesn’t see a way forward for Simandou, in which Rio Tinto holds a 47 percent stake, after iron ore prices plunged by more than two-thirds since 2011. Guinea is counting on the project to double the size of its $6.5 billion economy and turn it into the third-biggest iron-ore exporter.

“We’re asking partners not to make decisions that’s in the interest of their shareholders only,” Magassouba said.

A spokesman for Rio Tinto declined to comment when contacted by phone.