Rio Tinto’s lawsuit against Vale over Simandou iron ore project in Guinea dismissed by US judge

23 November 2015 (Last Updated November 23rd, 2015 18:30)

A US judge has dismissed Rio Tinto's lawsuit against Vale and other parties, which accused them of stealing its undeveloped iron ore project in Guinea's Simandou region.

A US judge has dismissed Rio Tinto's lawsuit against Vale and other parties, which accused them of stealing its undeveloped iron ore project in Guinea's Simandou region.

In April 2014, Rio Tinto accused Brazilian mining company Vale of conspiring with Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz and BSG Resources.

However, US district judge Richard Berman said that Rio Tinto lost the mining rights in December 2008 and filed the lawsuit after a long period has passed.

Berman said that the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act, a US anti-conspiracy law requires a company to sue within four years.

"Rio Tinto is free to both appeal Judge Berman's decision and pursue its claims in other forums, and is actively looking at all options."

Reuters quoted Rio Tinto saying in a statement: "Judge Berman's decision was focused on a narrow point of law and he did not rule on the evidence Rio Tinto has been gathering in the case.

"Rio Tinto is free to both appeal Judge Berman's decision and pursue its claims in other forums, and is actively looking at all options."

Rio Tinto said the accused parties stole its rights over the northern half of Simandou by devising a fraudulent scheme.

In 2008, the then Guinea President Lansana Conte's Government cancelled its permit on the deposit and transferred it to BSG later on. Up until then, Rio Tinto spent millions developing the deposit and increased the resource size to 2.25 billion tonnes.

Following the transfer, BSG offloaded 51% of its Guinean assets to Vale in 2010. At that time, the companies created a joint venture valued at $2.5bn named VBG. Before Rio Tinto filed its lawsuit, the government stripped the companies of their rights over Simandou and the Zogota deposits.