8 Oct 2009 16:54

Moscow hopes talks will resolve situation with RUSAL bauxite plant in Guinea

MOSCOW. Oct 8 (Interfax) - Moscow hopes a solution to the situation with United Company RUSAL's (UC RUSAL) Friguia bauxite and alumina plant in Guinea will be found during forthcoming intergovernmental talks.

"The parties, who want cooperation to be maintained, have agreed to hold government-to-government consultations in an attempt to determine the prospects for further economic relations between Russia and Guinea. The timing and level for those consultations are being discussed. We hope very much that we will be able to reach a mutually acceptable solution at these talks," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko told reporters.

Nesterenko said the situation with the Friguuia complex was discussed during a visit by a Guinean delegation to Moscow this week.

In April this year, Guinean President Moussa Dadis Camara, the head of the military regime that took power after a revolt, ordered his justice minister to open a criminal case over RUSAL's purchase of the Friguia complex in 2006. In the opinion of the new Guinean government, the country received less than the actual cost of the plant. Camara said that RUSAL paid $19 million although consultants he did not name valued the plant at $257 million. The Conakry court invalidated the deal in September.

RUSAL challenged the court judgment and started to prepare to lodge a lawsuit with international arbitration in Paris. The deal is regulated by French law.

RUSAL has invested $300 million in the purchase and modernization of Friguia, which is capable of producing 1.9 million tonnes of bauxite per year. RUSAL also operates the Kindia bauxite company.

Bauxite generates 80% of Guinea's export revenue. Guinea produced 14 million tonnes of bauxite in 2007.