Burkina Faso to end tycoon Frank Timis's manganese mining contract

OUAGADOUGOU, April 12 (Reuters) – Burkina Faso will terminate a contract with the company of Romanian-Australian tycoon Frank Timis to develop one of the world's biggest manganese mines, its mines minister said on Thursday.

Timis's Pan African Burkina Limited (PAB) acquired the rights to the Tambao mine, which it says holds 100 million tonnes of manganese reserves, in June 2012. PAB says it has invested over $100 million developing the mine, but it has been involved in a legal wrangle with the government over its permit.

"The state of Burkina Faso is going to terminate the contract with Timis Mining Corp," Mines Minister Idani Oumarou said on state television, referring to PAB's parent company.

"But it must send them a first notice of default. The contract will be terminated 90 days after the formal notice, which hasn't yet been made," he said.

Timis Mining Corporation could not immediately be reached for comment.

The government of Burkina Faso's long-time ruler Blaise Compaore, which agreed the deal with PAB in 2012, was overthrown two years later. In January 2015 the new government suspended the company's export permit, saying some licences had been previously awarded in an opaque manner, though it later lifted that suspension.

Timis's Pan African Minerals Group is seeking $385 million from Burkina Faso via arbitration, accusing authorities of blocking development of the mine.

(Reporting by Thiam Ndiaga; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Aaron Ross and Susan Fenton)