Spain suspends controversial mine project won by Grupo Mexico

viernes 15 de mayo de 2015 15:35 GYT

MADRID/MEXICO CITY May 15 (Reuters) - A mining concession in southern Spain won by Mexican miner Grupo Mexico has been frozen, a regional government spokeswoman said on Friday.

In February, a Grupo Mexico-Minorbis consortium was chosen as the winning bid by the government of Andalusia to reopen and operate the Aznalcollar copper, zinc and lead mine near Sevilla.

However, a Spanish court has since opened an investigation into the tender process after reports surfaced alleging corruption, bribery and influence-peddling.

Grupo Mexico estimates that Aznalcollar's reserves of the three base metals total 35 million tonnes, and says it plans to invest 300 million euros ($342 million) in the project.

On Friday, a spokeswoman for the government of Andalusia said the tender had been frozen "until there is a clear outcome," but did not elaborate.

In a statement on Friday, Grupo Mexico said it had not been alerted to any suspension or cancellation of the project and that it has complied with all legal requirements for the 30-year concession.

The company added that it is moving forward to develop the project, sticking to its plan to begin commercial production by 2018. (Reporting by Sonya Dowsett in Madrid and Gabriel Stargardter in Mexico City; Editing by Alan Crosby)