MELBOURNE, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Rio Tinto declined to comment on Monday on whether it would be willing to settle a lawsuit it brought against Brazil’s Vale SA over valuable iron ore concessions in Guinea.
Vale’s general counsel said last Friday the company may consider seeking a settlement with Rio Tinto, depending on a judge’s decision on whether to move the court case to London from New York.
“As for a settlement agreement... that possibility always exists, but in this specific case we are not going to accept any blame,” general counsel Clovis Torres told reporters in London following an investor briefing.
“But maybe what is even more absurd than this lawsuit, is the high cost of lawsuits in the United States. So to avoid a further absurdity, spending more money, we could think in terms like that,” he said.
Rio filed suit in May alleging that Vale, Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz and BSG Resources devised a fraudulent scheme to steal its rights over the northern half of the Simandou deposit, considered one of the world’s best untapped iron ore lodes.
Steinmetz and BSGR have denied any wrongdoing.
Vale, like its rivals, has been hit hard by a 50 percent slide this year in the price of iron ore, and is trying to slash costs and shed up to $10 billion worth of assets to help it weather the downturn.
Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Richard Pullin