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Simandou iron-ore project, Guinea – update

Aerial View of the Simandou project

Photo by Copyright © 2023 Rio Tinto

26th April 2024

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Name of the Project
Simandou iron-ore project.

Location
Guinea.

Project Owner/s
Simandou’s mining concession is divided into four blocks.

The project is a partnership between Rio Tinto, Chalco Iron Ore Holdings (CIOH), and a Chinalco-led consortium, Winning Consortium Simandou (WCS), Baowu and the Guinea government.

Simfer Jersey Limited is a joint venture (JV) between the Rio Tinto Group (53%) and CIOH (47%). CIOH is a Chinalco-led JV of leading Chinese State-owned enterprises: Chinalco (75%), Baowu (20%), China Rail Construction Corporation (2.5%) and China Harbour Engineering Company (2.5%).

Simfer is the holder of the mining concession covering Simandou blocks 3 and 4, and is owned by the Guinean State (15%) and Simfer Jersey Limited (85%). Simfer Infraco Guinée will deliver Simfer’s scope of the co-developed rail and port infrastructure, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Simfer Jersey Limited, but will be co-owned by the Guinean State (15%) after closing of the co-development arrangements.
 
WCS is a consortium of Singaporean company Winning International Group (50%), Weiqiao Aluminium (50%, part of the China Hongqiao Group) and United Mining Supply Group (nominal shareholding). WCS is the holder of Simandou North blocks 1 and 2 (with the government of Guinea holding a 15% interest in the mining vehicle and WCS holding 85%) and associated infrastructure. Baowu Resources has entered into an agreement to acquire a 49% share of WCS mine and infrastructure projects through a Baowu-led consortium, subject to conditions, including regulatory approvals. In the case of the mine, Baowu has an option to increase its shareholding  to 51% during operations.

Project Description
The Simandou project comprises three core elements – a mine, railway and port, as well as associated infrastructure.

The Simfer JV’s mine concession holds an estimated 2.8-billion-tonne mineral resource, of which 1.5-billion tonnes were converted to ore reserves that support a mine life of 26 years, with an average grade of 65.3%.

There will be an openpit iron-ore operation in the Simandou range, in south-eastern Guinea, with an expected peak production of between 95-million and 100-million tonnes a year.

Simandou’s blocks 1 and 2 are expected to produce 60-million tonnes a year, and Rio's blocks 3 and 4 about 40-million tonnes a year.

The project includes an estimated 670 km railway to transport the iron-ore from the mine to the Guinean coast and a new deep-water port south of Conakry, on the Morebaya river.

Associated developments to provide utilities and supporting infrastructure for the project include construction facilities, and access to materials, power generation, water, access roads and accommodation.

New infrastructure will become State property upon completion.

Construction of the project will be undertaken in two stages.

The first stage will develop the southern Ouelaba mine site, which will include the construction of the railway and port to a capacity of about 60-million tonnes a year.

The second stage will bring the northern Pic de Fon mine site on line and expand the capacity of rail and port facilities, increasing production to between 95-million and 100-million tonnes a year.

The mine will be the biggest integrated mine-and-infrastructure project ever developed in Africa.

Potential Job Creation
It is estimated that the project will create 10 000 direct jobs and more than 100 000 induced jobs, as well as employ more than 3 500 local subcontractors.

Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
Not stated.

Capital Expenditure
A Rio Tinto engineering study conducted on the project estimates capital expenditure at $18.3-billion.

Planned Start/End Date
The Simandou project will be completed and put into operation in 2026.

Latest Developments
In February 2024, the Rio Tinto board approved its share of capital expenditure to progress the project, subject to JV partner and regulatory approvals from China and Guinea. Rio is continuing to work with its partners to satisfy the outstanding conditions.

The company has estimated its share of capital expenditure for the Simfer mine and co-developed infrastructure at about $6.2-billion. First production from the mine is expected in 2025, ramping up over 30 months to an annualised capacity of 60-million tonnes a year.

During the first quarter, Rio continued to finalise the remaining construction contracts and progressed the full mobilisation of more than 7 000 workers for the Simfer mine and Simfer-managed scope of the co-developed infrastructure.

At the mine, good progress has been made on the earthworks, including completion of clearing the 18 km airport access road. Construction has also started on the primary crusher. The rail spur tunnel, port car dumpers and transshipment vessel wharf are now under construction as part of the Simfer-managed scope of the co-developed infrastructure,

Biodiversity monitoring and community commitments are also continuing, with 11 projects under way for schools, water wells, training programmes and local-content business support.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
Fluor (construction contractor); and NRW Holdings (earthworks contract).

Contact Details for Project Information
Rio Tinto, tel +44 20 7781 2000 or email media.enquiries@riotinto.com.
Chalco, tel +86-10 8229 8103.
WCS,  tel +224 613 55 55 55 or email info@winningafrica.net.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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