The bankrupt iron ore miner African Minerals of controversial Romanian-Australian billionaire Frank Timis is involved in a USD 700 million legal battle with its former Chinese partner in Sierra Leone, standard.co.uk reveals, capital.ro informs.
State-owned steel giant Shandong claims to be a creditor of the bust miner and has filed a claim for the amount, according to the latest report by African Minerals’ administrators Deloitte.
The proof of debt was rejected by Deloitte, but Shandong – which is still operating and investing in the mine – has appealed the rejection.
“The matter is currently before the English Court,” administrators’ said. A trial is unlikely before 2018.
Shandong initially bought a 25 percent stake in Tonkolili from UK’s African Minerals in 2012 and then purchased the remaining equity at only USD170 million in April 2015 as African Minerals had to stop operating the mine, according to BMI analysis, due to the ebola crisis and debt issues.
Shortly after, Timis’ African Minerals went into administration, unable to cope with the collapse in iron ore prices and the ebola outbreak. His company is also being pursued in the High Court by local residents in Sierra Leone over evictions and the treatment of mine workers, the source reads.
The mine’s current production capacity is 20 Mtpa and it was initially planned that the mine would eventually produce up to 35 Mt of iron ore per year. All of the iron ore mined at Tonkolili will be shipped to China.
Romanian tycoon Frank Timis had a fortune estimated at EUR 270-280 million, ranking the 11 in the latest edition of Top 300 Capital. In 2012, Frank Timis, the Timis Corporation’s chief officer. became “the richest Romanian”.