* Wants to expand iron ore portfolio in west, central Africa
* No large-scale investments any time soon
* Looks to roll out trading in iron ore derivatives (Adds quotes, details)
By Maytaal Angel
STOCKHOLM, June 26 (Reuters) - Global miner Anglo American has ruled out a bid for Guinea’s Simandou, one of the world’s most valuable iron ore deposits, but is still looking to expand its portfolio in the region.
“Don’t expect us to be bidding for a project such as Simandou,” Anglo American’s head of marketing and iron ore sales, Timo Smit, told Reuters on the sidelines of the Metal Bulletin 20th Iron Ore Symposium in Sweden.
“Our focus is more on having options to expand in west and central Africa. We won’t be making any large-scale investments any time soon.”
Exploiting Simandou could help one of Africa’s poorest countries prosper but mine development has been bogged down by disputes over the concessions.
Earlier this year, Guinea revoked the mining rights over the northern half of Simandou held by VBG - a joint venture between BSG Resources and Vale SA - as a government report had found that BSGR won those rights through “corruption”.
BSGR has repeatedly said it was not involved in any wrongdoing and is seeking arbitration at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.
The west African nation plans to start a new auction to reissue the permits for VBG’s half of Simandou, and will allow former owner Vale to enter the tender, should it chose to. The other half of Simandou has been licensed to miner Rio Tinto .
In a bid to secure the best price it can for its ore, Anglo American is looking at rolling out its fledgling trading in iron ore derivatives by hiring a team to trade the financial products.
“We have a thermal coal trading team in London, that’s our pilot project. If it goes well we may also get into iron ore trading, but probably not before the end of the year,” Smit said.
The iron ore derivatives market is supported by Anglo’s competitor BHP Billiton, and has gained popularity among financial players and trading houses in the last few years.
However, the market still lacks the participation of most iron ore producers, and is generally unpopular with steel mills, the natural buyers of ore whose input is needed for the market to mature. (Reporting by Maytaal Angel; editing by Susan Thomas and Jason Neely)