London, England — MININGREVIEW.COM — 03 August 2010 – Rio Tinto plc “’ one of the world’s leading mining and exploration companies “’ has advanced to the next stage of developing its world-class Simandou iron ore project in Guinea, approving US$170 million (R1.3 billion) of further funding for mine, rail and port infrastructure work.
A statement issued here said the US$170 million (R1.3 billion) investment “’ which came on top of the US$650 million (R4.9 billion) already spent on exploration, community development and evaluation studies – would take effect immediately, optimising the design of the mine, mine infrastructure, rail system and port facilities, as well as enabling further work on drilling operations.
It added that Rio Tinto welcomed a recent acknowledgement from the Prime Minister of Guinea that, in order to make the project economic, it might consider an export route through Liberia. However, the current plan anticipated the construction of a mine at Simandou with an annual capacity of 95 million tonnes, a 650km dedicated industrial railroad passing through 21 km of tunnels traversing Guinea to the coast, a rail car-dumping facility and a four-berth wharf located 11km offshore from Matakang.
Announcing the decision, Rio Tinto chief executive iron ore Sam Walsh said recent additional studies and analysis following the global financial crisis had produced a better mine to port option, enabling delivery to market of at least 95 million tonnes a year of a high-grade sinter fines product.
“Simandou will be the largest integrated iron ore mine and infrastructure project ever developed in Africa. Rio Tinto’s experience and expertise developing large-scale iron ore projects will be enable us to bring this complex project on-stream,” he said.
“This follows the signing of a binding agreement with the Chinese company Chalco last week, under which a joint venture to develop and operate the Simandou iron ore project will be established,” Walsh added. “We expect to start mining operations within five years. Additionally, while we now identify a 95 million-tonne operation as the optimal capacity for the initial development, we believe there is considerable scope to expand the project in subsequent years.”