Chieftain Cosser eyes African ore
THE untapped iron ore riches of Sierra Leone have attracted the attention of Australian pay-TV pioneer and all-round entrepreneur Steve Cosser (in photo). And he reckons he has landed a big one in the west African nation, known more for its strife and abject poverty than its potential mineral wealth.
The now London-based Mr Cosser told BusinessDay his privately held Africa Inc is to acquire a 3-billion-tonne high-grade coastal iron ore deposit near the town of Bagla Hills in eastern Sierra Leone.
”It’s the biggest [single] iron deposit in the world. Iron ore is the most in-demand mineral in the world and China is eating it up like you wouldn’t believe,” enthused Mr Cosser, an admitted occasional dabbler in resource opportunities.
”I have bought 100 per cent of it. I have also been made chieftain of Bagla Hills,” he said. ”The paramount chief [of one of Sierra Leone’s four kingdoms] has awarded me citizenship of Bagla Hills and I’ve agreed to take care of the poorest city in the poorest country in the world.”
Mr Cosser said the iron ore deposit was currently the subject of a conservation order. ”But obviously they are going to lift it because of the wealth that can come into the country would be enormous,” he said.
The consideration in the deal is unusual. ”I’ve said I’ll fix this place up and I’ll do it quickly whether they lift [the conservation order] or not,” Mr Cosser said.
He said the government had been offered all sorts of deals for development rights to the iron ore deposit and all sorts of people had claimed ownership at various stages. Mr Cosser’s deal is with a local man, Jacob Barnett. ”The idea is to turn [Bagla Hills] into the gleaming diamond of Africa,” Mr Cosser said.
The Cyprus-registered Africa Inc is 100 per cent owned by Mr Cosser. A statement to be released today quotes Mr Barnett as saying that Africa Inc’s plans for ”my people made [it] head and shoulders above any other contender for the project”.
The plan is to list Africa Inc in New York. ”Will Cosser make money out of it? Of course he will. He always does,” said London-born, Brisbane-raised Mr Cosser.
His Australian media career began aged 17 when he became the youngest staff announcer with the ABC. He made a small fortune, reportedly $70 million, from the first pay-TV network in Australia, Australis, in the early 1990s.Barry Fitzgerald, The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia
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