PR firm Powerscourt takes on BSGR as client

London-based public relations firm Powerscourt has taken on Beny Steinmetz Group Resources (BSGR) after US PR major FTI Consulting dropped the mining group as a client, citing a "conflict of interest".

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Powerscourt consultant Ian Middleton confirmed to Steel First that the firm had taken on Israeli diamond magnate Beny Steinmetz’s mining group BSGR at the end of November.

BSGR is in the middle of a dispute with the Guinean government over the review of iron ore exploration licences granted to the miner by the country’s former administration.

BSGR accused the Guinean government of conducting a “smear campaign” in a statement on November 7, saying that its allegations of corruptions were false and that Guinea was looking to “seize” BSGR’s stake in the Simandou project.

The Guinean government’s technical mining committee is reviewing aspects of the Simandou contracts – including BSGR securing licences for two blocks of the project and its sale of the 51% stake to Brazilian mining major Vale.

BSGR acquired the licences to blocks 1 and 2 of Simandou in 2006 under the government of Guinean dictator Lansana Conte. The mining group sold the majority stake in the licences to Vale in 2010 for $2.5 billion.

Only $500 million of the $2.5 billion has been paid to BSGR by Vale so far. The rest of the payments are conditional on the completion of different stages of the project.

FTI dropped BSGR as a client in early November. The conflict of interest stems from the communications group’s chairman of global affairs, former UN deputy secretary-general Lord Malloch-Brown, who has close ties with philanthropist financier George Soros.

Soros is acting as an adviser to the Guinean government and is a backer of international natural resource anti-corruption NGO, Global Witness.

Global Witness has called for BSGR to publicly address questions over its iron ore licences in Guinea.