INSIGHT -Global glut threatens West African iron ore ambitions
* Iron ore price fall hits West African mines
* Projects seen as risky due to high costs, infrastructure
* Long-term low prices could sound a death knell - analysts
* Chinese firms snap up deals, could rescue some projects
By Umaru Fofana
PEPEL, Sierra Leone, May 14 (Reuters) - Red piles of iron ore and rusting railway wagons in the deserted stockyard at the port of Pepel bear silent witness to a crisis engulfing Sierra Leone's mining industry and threatening others across West Africa.
The conveyor belt out to the jetty on the slow-moving Rokel river has remained idle for most of the past few months as only a handful of ships have anchored at the moribund port.
At the height of the commodities boom last decade, West African countries became magnets for miners seeking untapped iron ore, diamonds, gold, bauxite and other minerals.
In Pepel, locals anticipated an economic surge for their civil war-ravaged country when London-listed firm African Minerals started shipping ore four years ago from its Tonkolili mine. Continuación...