Senegal had been seeking US$750-million in damages after winning a case at the International Chamber of Commerce’s arbitration court in Paris. The court ruled in September that Senegal was within its rights to cancel the 2007 deal due to long delays.
Abdoul Latif Coulibaly, Senegal’s minister for good governance and government spokesman, told Reuters ArcelorMittal would also hand over the equivalent of US$50-million worth of research on the site to its next operator. “ArcelorMittal and the government of Senegal have agreed to negotiate in order to end the conflict,’ Coulibaly said.
A spokesperson for ArcelorMittal in London declined to comment. ArcelorMittal had initially planned to invest $2.2-billion in the project, including the construction of a new port near the capital Dakar and a 750 km railway line. The mine in the country’s far east is estimated to contain 750-million tonnes of reserves. However, the project was suspended after the global economic crisis struck. The government has said it has received several bids from firms interested in taking over the project.
‘End to “illegal” corruption court’
Meanwhile, rights campaigners have called for a special anti-corruption court trying the son of former Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade to be disbanded, claiming it violates international law. Karim Wade is due to go on trial on July 31, accused of corruptly acquiring a fortune of $242 million (178 million euros) when he was a “super minister” in his father’s cabinet.
A group of campaigning organisations including the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Senegalese League of Human Rights (LSDH) released a statement late Friday over the weekend claiming the court did not conform with international legal standards.
“Fighting against corruption and illicit enrichment is legitimate but the (court) allows no possibility of appeal, and its rules and procedures reverse the burden of proof,” Assane Dioma Ndiaye, president of the LSDH, said in the statement.
“Suffice to say that you are presumed guilty and it is up to you to prove your innocence.”
Wade was charged and detained in Dakar in April last year, accused of having acquired companies, real estate and a fleet of luxury cars valued at $1.4 billion by corrupt means, although that sum was later greatly reduced.