BHP Billiton may steal a deal from China Machinery Engineering Group in Gabon. As per Gabonese officials the mining giant is close to winning the rights to the Belinga iron ore deposit which is one of the largest iron ore projects in the country.
The mines and Oil Minister Alexandre Barro Chambrier of the West African country is to meet the executives of BHP Billiton in Cape Town next month to finalize the deal as per Michel Edzang, an official at the Mining Department and adviser to the minister.
The Melbourne based mining giant has refused to comment on the issue. Cai Ning, manager of China Machinery’s engineering department said that they were still in discussion with the Gabon government on how to solve the problems. He added that they were waiting for their reply. They have not said that they were withdrawing and the project was still ongoing.
However as per Edzang BHP Billiton has told Gabon in initial talks that it may partner with India's Abhijeet Infrastructure Ltd. as the Belinga project involves the construction of a railway. It does seem that the Gabon government may be wooing the Australian company over the Chinese one.
The government of Gabon has already expressed dismay over the status of exploration and development works at the site by the China Machinery Engineering Group. This has led to a review of the Belinga iron ore deposit being initiated in 2010 after the officials in the government felt that the mine's development has been progressing very slowly.