A Canadian company, Nevsun, is involved in negotiations for alternative buyers of its Eritrean operations, which allegedly use militarised labour.
Bloomberg suggests that a Qatar-backed private equity fund called QKR Corp. is contemplating a US$1-billion bid for the company.
QKR is headed by former JPMorgan Chase banker Lloyd Pengilly, and boasts financial backing from Qatar and from Poland’s richest man, Jan Kulczyk. The private mining fund picked up AngloGold Ashanti’s Navachab mine for US$110 million in February.
Nevsun said in a statement that it was not aware of any bid for the company, but it “has recently received, from various parties, expressions of interest on a potential corporate transaction.”
On November 20th a Vancouver-based law firm filed a notice of civil claim on behalf of three Eritrean refugees who allege they were forced to work at Bisha under threats of torture.
The document indicates that the plaintiffs — namely Gize Yebeyo Araya, Kesete Tekle Fshazion and Mihretab Yemane Tekle — worked at the mine at various times from roughly 1997 through 2012.
The claim seeks damages on behalf of all Eritrean nationals who were conscripted to work at Bisha from Sept. 2008 to the present under “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment as well as harsh conditions including long hours, malnutrition, and forced confinement for little pay.”
None of the allegations have been proven in court, and the claim does not include a cash value for damages. Nevsun denies the allegations.