UPDATE 1-Guinea could launch Simandou auction as soon as next month
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By Silvia Antonioli
LONDON, March 16 (Reuters) - Guinea expects to launch an auction for the right to develop half of the giant Simandou iron deposit as soon as next month, Mining Minister Kerfalla Yansane said on Monday, adding he expected great interest despite a steep fall in iron prices.
Top miners including Rio Tinto and Vale have sought to develop Simandou, the world's biggest untapped iron ore deposit.
But analysts think low iron ore prices and lawsuits surrounding the deposit have diminished appetite. However, Guinea plans to go ahead with the auction.
"I'm flying to Paris to finalise things with the lawyers and the auction could start as soon as next month," the minister told Reuters at the Chatham House Extractive Industries in Africa conference.
The minister said he expected many participants would take part given the very high quality of the deposit.
"This is a long-term project," he said.
Rio Tinto already holds the right to develop the southern half of the deposit, which could produce about 100 million tonnes of iron ore a year. Continuación...