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Sir Mick Davis, the former head of the mining group Xstrata, severed ties with Niron Metals, an investment vehicle he co-founded to develop large-scale iron deposits in Guinea.
According to documents from the company building, Davis, who was former chairman of Niron, ceased to serve as a director this month and no longer has “significant control” over the private company.
Davis is the former CEO of the Conservative Party known as “Miner Mick” and one of the most well-known figures in the industry. He served as the Chief Financial Officer of Billiton and the CEO of Xstrata until he was acquired by Glencore in 2013. .
After leaving Xstastra, he founded X2 Resources, a mining tool that received billions of dollars in promises from investors, but ultimately failed to reach a deal.
Niron was registered in the United Kingdom in 2018, and a year later, the mining group BSGR, controlled by the Beny Steinmetz family of Israeli diamond tycoons, requested the development of the Zogata iron deposit.
The agreement is a A broader agreement reached between BSGR and the government of Guinea This helped to end the long-standing disputes over mining rights in this resource-rich West African country. President Alpha Conte was overthrown in a coup this month.
According to people familiar with the matter, Davis’ decision to sever ties with Nylon was made before Conte was overthrown. They said that Davis already believes that Niron may take many years to ensure that Zogata’s iron ore enters the market, and he wants to focus on other projects.
Earlier this year, Davis launched a fund to invest in battery metals. The vehicle, called Vision Blue Resources, made its first investment in February and helped launch a $300 million special-purpose vehicle listed in New York.
Guinea has some of the highest grade iron ore in the world, including the huge Simandou deposit. But the country failed to use its natural resources.
A consortium backed by China has begun research 650km Trans-Guinean Railway This will connect Simandou and other potential mines with a deep-water port on the coast. However, this may take several years to complete.
Niron signed a memorandum of understanding in 2019 to transport its iron ore to Buchanan Port via the existing railway line used by ArcelorMittal through neighboring Liberia, which has idle capacity. Subsequently, it completed a feasibility study of the Zogota deposit handed over to the government of Guinea a year ago.
But the plan to export iron ore through Liberia is doubtful. ArcelorMittal and Monrovia recently announced a new mineral development agreement under which the steel manufacturer will triple the iron ore output of its Yekepa mine in Liberia, and invest additional investment 800 million US dollars.
Niron stated that it continues to “explore sustainable long-term logistics solutions to unlock the full potential of the Zogota project for the benefit of all stakeholders.”
“We thank Sir Mick for his valuable leadership and insight during Niron,” it said. “Sir Mick played an important role in the development of Niron and in promoting the reassessment of the potential of the Guinea iron ore industry. We wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”
Niron’s other directors include Greek fund manager Marcos Camhis and De Beers former head of diamond trading Varda Shine.