Quality iron ore assets in Africa’s remotest regions hold no value unless they can be transported to the coast for export. Developing the continent’s infrastructure to ensure new project viability is being undertaken not only by majors with large bank balances, but also by juniors such as Sundance Resources. Not only will this Australian junior build two major iron ore mines in two central African countries, but also a massive 580 km railway line to see its product travel international waters, writes Laura Cornish.
Unlike South Africa, both Cameroon and the Republic of Congo (ROC) have been proving more recently they are mining and investor-friendly countries. Numerous mining companies have acquired tenements in the regions and are working fervently to develop these properties into cash-generating mines.
ASX-listed iron ore junior Sundance Resources is one such company, although it has been exploring and working on its Mbalam-Nabeba iron ore properties since 2007. To date the company has injected in the region of US$300 to 400 million into the project to get it to the point it is today – ready for development. The Mbarga mine lies in Cameroon, just north of the border which separates it from its sister property Nabeba about 40 km south in the ROC. Together, both open cast mines have been designed to deliver 35 Mtpa of high grade iron ore for the Chinese export market. The mines alone are an enormous undertaking but represent only 20% of the entire Sundance project.