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Israeli Billionaire Returns To Sierra Leone

Business

Israeli Billionaire Returns To Sierra Leone

Israeli Billionaire Beny Steinmetz has started digging for diamonds again in Sierra Leone after an almost year-long halt in production.

Steinmetz’s Koidu mine in Sierra Leone, which supplies New York-based jeweler Tiffany & Co with diamonds, run by his company BSGR, has faced several challenges over the last few years including high debts which led to the mine’s closure.

BSGR has put $50m (36.8m Pounds) into the revival of the mine, including making it an underground operation as it was previously an open pit, which produces some of the world’s most valuable gems.

Steinmetz’s adviser, Dag Cramer said: “We’ve injected additional resource. That was tough, that’s why we fell behind with creditors’. ‘This is the type of mining operation where you have to take the long-term view”.

The company has had its fair share of controversy as it was accused of bribery in 2014 resulting in the government of Guinea confiscating their iron ore mining project Simandou. Stgeinmetz himself was arrested on accusations of bribery by Israeli Police in 2016.

“We’re not out of the woods yet. We’re trying to run this operation, meet all obligations, and make a return to equity holders. There is a new owner of the debt and they want to generate a profit. At the same time, they must appreciate that the equity owners also have skin in the game,” Cramer said.

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