Yomboeli, Guinea — 12 June 2012 – Guinea has launched operations at its first iron mine “’ a joint venture between Africa-focused miner Bellzone “’ an AIM-listed iron ore development company “’ the China International Fund (CIF) and the government of Guinea.
Reuters reports that the West African nation is the world’s biggest shipper of bauxite, the feedstock ore for aluminium, accounting for around one-third of international supplies, but there is growing interest in its iron reserves.
“Total investment in the project is over US$300 million, production volume will be 4Mtpa and will subsequently grow to 10Mtpa,” says CIF Guinea manager Jack Cheung.
The project will be developed from its current estimated reserve of 40Mt, but operations are still under way on the concession to determine the existence of further reserves.
The government of Guinea holds a 15% stake in the venture as part of a resource-for-infrastructure deal signed with CIF in 2010.
The remaining 85% of the venture is shared in a 50-50 deal between Bellzone and CIF.
Iron ore from the mine will be exported via a new port in the town of Forecariah, built by the joint venture company Guinea Development Corporation, with the first shipment to be loaded by 30June, a mines ministry official said.
Guinea relies on minerals for more than 70% of its exports. Aside from bauxite, it also produces gold, but iron ore is its major growth industry.
Joint ventures by Rio Tinto and Chinalco, and Vale and BSG Resources, are spending more than US$5 billion on the Simandou and Zogota iron ore projects.
Source: Reuters. For more information, click here.