London Mining, owner and operator of the Marampa iron ore mine in Sierra Leone, announced on October 16 that, “Following a longer than expected period of negotiations between the senior lenders and potential acquirers of the Marampa mine, as well as a lack of liquidity due to the dramatic fall in iron ore prices, the board has decided that it must now place London Mining PLC into administration.”
PwC was appointed as the administrator. On October 23, PwC announced that terms had been agreed with Timis Corp. for purchase of the Marampa mine. The announcement quoted Timis Chairman Frank Timis, as saying, “I am delighted that, assuming successful conclusion of this process over the coming week, it is expected that the Marampa mine will continue to be a major source of employment and government revenue in Sierra Leone, and avoids the closure of such an important asset for the local and national community.”
Timis is also executive chairman of African Minerals Ltd., which owns and operates the Tonkolili iron ore mine in Sierra Leone. Tonkolili produced 9.8 million mt of direct shipping ore during the six months to June 30.
Timis added, “We now intend to enter negotiations with African Minerals Ltd. and its infrastructure company African Railway and Port Services, which, if successful, will unlock the synergies between these assets, for the long-term good of all stakeholders.”
London Mining started production at Marampa in December 2011 and in 2013 produced 3.4 million wet mt (wmt) of sinter concentrate. Also in 2013, the company expanded Marampa production capacity to 5.4 million wmt/y and has been working toward a further increase to 6.5 million wmt/y.
Marampa has a mineral resource of more than 1 billion mt of iron ore, including a probable reserve of 539 million mt grading 31.1% iron.
The Ebola epidemic in West Africa has been a factor in Marampa operations. London Mining has instituted preventive measures at the mine site, including compulsory screening for all staff and visitors, and the company is also building a 130-bed Ebola treatment center at the town of Lunsar, near the mine site.
London Mining has also completed bankable feasibility studies outlining plans for developing a total of 20 million wet mt/y of iron ore production from projects in Greenland and Saudi Arabia.