Rio Tinto says will hang back from north Simandou iron tender
* First export from Simandou south expected in Dec. 2018
* Final decision on project will be after feasibility study
By Silvia Antonioli and Alexandra Reza
LONDON, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Rio Tinto indicated it would not take part in a tender for the mining rights for the northern half of the disputed Guinea iron ore deposit Simandou, saying the government would prefer other companies to invest.
The global miner already owns a stake in the southern part of the project, the biggest and highest quality untapped iron ore deposit known.
Mining concessions for the northern half are now up for grabs after the government took them from the previous holders: Brazilian miner Vale and BSG Resources (BSGR), the mining branch of Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz's group.
Potential investors may be deterred, however, by falling iron ore prices and by a threat from BSGR that it will sue any investor in its former license.
Iron ore .IO62-CNI=SI has lost half of its value since hitting a peak of almost $200 a tonne in 2011.
"I don't think that the government actually wants us to participate," Rio Tinto Chief Executive Sam Walsh said during a press briefing. Continuación...