Burkina Faso says Paris court dismissed $2.2 billion claim over manganese mine contract

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - A Paris court has dismissed a $2.2 billion claim against Burkina Faso lodged by Pan African Minerals Group over control of one of the world’s largest manganese mines, Burkina’s government said on Thursday.

Romanian-Australian tycoon Frank Timis’ Pan African Burkina Limited (PAB) bought the rights to the Tambao mine, which it says holds 100 million tonnes of manganese reserves, in 2012. PAB says it has invested over $100 million developing the mine, but has been involved in a legal wrangle with the government over its permit.

PAB and two other firms in Pan African Minerals Group filed a claim with the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Court of Arbitration in late 2016, accusing the Burkinabe authorities of blocking development of the mine. Last April, while the court case was still pending, the government terminated PAB’s Tambao contract.

In its ruling, the court found that “the termination of the contract by Burkina was valid and justified in law,” government spokesman Remi Dandjinon told Reuters. “For the Burkinabe government, this is satisfactory because it allows us to regain control of the deposit.”

Pan African Minerals Group did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

It won the Tambao contract under the government of Burkina Faso’s long-time ruler Blaise Compaore in June 2012. Compaore was overthrown two years later and the new authorities said some licenses had previously been awarded in an opaque manner.

Reporting by Thiam Ndiaga; Additional reporting by Emma Rumney; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Aaron Ross and David Evans