BHP to freeze West African assets

Rumours have emerged that BHP Billiton is moving to freeze all assets in Gabon, but so far the company has not confirmed the speculation.

Reuters reports officials for the Gabon Government claim the company is winding down plans for manganese and iron ore development in the small West African nation.


Gabon is the world's second-largest manganese producer after South Africa, and BHP held two prospective licences for mining ore in the Central African country.


BHP has also signed a contract for the Belinga iron ore mine, after it edged out China Machinery Engineering Corp's rights to the deposit.


Unnamed Government officials told Reuters the decision was a blow to the country, and could jeopardise existing agreements between the Government and BHP.


The move is the latest in a series of cutbacks made by BHP as it sells off unprofitable assets in order to strengthen its portfolio.


A spokesperson for BHP was unavailable for comment this morning.

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