Sundance vetting suitors for Mbalam iron ore development

Junior iron ore miner Sundance Resources is in discussions with at least eight parties over the development of its Mbalam iron ore project, according to a senior Cameroon government official.

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“There was a hitch in raising finance [for Mbalam] on time,” Fuh Calistus Gentry, secretary of state in the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Technological Development, told delegates at a Cameroon breakfast briefing at the Mining on Top: Africa conference in London on Wednesday June 25.

The long-awaited A$1.4 billion ($1.3 billion) takeover of Sundance by privately owned Chinese company Hanlong Mining fell apart on April 8 this year, following Hanlong’s failure to deliver credit-approved term sheets from its Chinese investors by March 26.

“Sundance is now in discussions with more than eight different groups over the development of Mbalam,” Gentry said, without revealing the names of the parties on grounds of confidentiality.

The junior miner was not available for comment at the time of publication.

Sundance is exploring various ownership structures and joint-venture options on project, mine development and infrastructure levels, ceo Giulio Casello said in a corporate presentation on June 25 in Sydney, Australia.

The Australia-listed company has been approached by “numerous” groups from resource, infrastructure and steel industries interested in the landlocked Mbalam project on the Cameroon-Republic of Congo border, it said on May 27 in a letter to its shareholders. 

Chinese enterprises still featured in the junior miner’s search for a development partner for Mbalam in April after the early termination of the Hanlong agreement.

The 35 million-tpy Mbalam project consists of the Mbarga deposit in Cameroon and the adjacent Nabeba deposit in Republic of Congo.

The Cameroon government holds the right to a 10% interest in Sundance’s Cameroonian project subsidiary, Camiron.