Rio Tinto, the world's second-largest mining company, is accelerating the development of the Simandou iron ore project in Guinea and has approved a further $1.328 billion to have the first shipment of ore rolling out by mid-2015.
The Anglo-Australian miner has approved spending $211 million for continued studies and $1.117 billion for commitments for early works and procurement of long-lead items or heavy equipments that often takes long time to procure.
The added funding brings the total amount spent or committed to the project to $3 billion, including $700 million paid to the Guinean government to secure the right to mine in two sections of the huge deposit.
Of this amount, approximately $2 billion has been allocated to mine-related costs and $1 billion to infrastructure requirements.
The Simandou project is estimated to hold 2.25 billion tonnes of iron ore, and if developed, has the potential to become the world's third-largest mining area, after Australia's Pilbara and Brazil's Carajas.
Rio Tinto had earlier estimated the development cost at approximately $6 billion, which analysts now say is likely to be almost double that amount.