Covington & Burling is advocating for a subsidiary of a major international iron ore mining company based in Australia, according to a lobbying registration report posted Thursday on a U.S. Senate Web site.
The firm is lobbying for BHP Billiton Ltd. subsidiary BHP Billiton Marketing Asia Pte Ltd. on "[m]ining interests in Gabon," the filing says.
The filing came less than a week after Reuters reported that BHP and Gabon had reached a deal to allow the company to exploit the Belinga iron ore deposit in the African nation. The agreement followed the decision by Gabon in December to strip the China Machinery Engineering Corp. of the Belinga mining rights that the Chinese company acquired in 2007. Concerns about potential environmental harm and China Machinery's skill at mining the iron ore have surrounded the operation since Gabon signed the deal with the company.
Covington senior international policy adviser Alan Larson, a former under secretary of State for economics; partner Kimberly Strosnider, a vice-chairwoman of the firm’s International practice group; and associate Sarah Liebschutz are handling the account. Neither the lobbyists nor a BHP spokesman responded to requests for comment.
BHP Billiton Marketing Asia, which is based in Singapore, hasn’t had a federal lobbyist before, according to congressional lobbying records that date back to 1999. But its parent last had a firm registered to lobby for it in 2010. The firm, Crowell & Moring, didn’t report any lobbying contacts on behalf of the company that year, however.