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Vol 51 No 25

Published 17th December 2010

Sierra Leone

Iron constitutions required

A Chinese-British consortium exploiting massive iron ore reserves at Tonkolili prompts opposition from villagers and anti-corruption campaigners

One of the wealthiest and most controversial businessmen in Britain, Vasile Frank Timis, has brought over $300 million of Chinese finance to Sierra Leone’s Tonkolili district to exploit what he claims is the biggest iron ore mine in the world (AC Vol 49 No 8). But local villagers are already protesting at what they consider to be the high handed approach of Timis’s company, African Minerals, in clearing land for the mine site. One of Timis’s Chinese partners also had doubts about the collaboration and hired some European business intelligence companies to investigate his operations. They also approached President Ernest Bai Koroma’s government directly with offers of substantial finance to develop the asset but were told by officials that Timis’s involvement was ‘non-negotiable’.

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