Rio Tinto has been given until February 2011 to formally surrender its rights to its Guinea iron ore project, the country’s mines minister said.

Mines Minister Mahmoud Thiam said the government has asked Rio Tinto for a written confirmation that the company has surrendered half of Simandou in accordance with the mining code.

Thiam warned that if the company fails to submit the confirmation by February 2011, it risks losing the other two blocks under its control and could definitively lose its rights to the zone.

Rio Tinto has been in dispute with Guinea over Simandou blocks 1 and 2, which the government gave to BSG Resources.

BSG won the two blocks in 2008 and signed a mine development agreement with Vale in April, reports Reuters.