Rio Tinto to invest $170 million to develop Simandou iron ore project in Guinea

Anglo Australian miner, Rio Tinto yesterday said that it would invest $170 million (A$186 million) to develop the next stage of its Simandou iron ore project in West African state of Guinea.

The $170 million investment will include initial work on upgrading the national road, including access from Forecariah, a town located in western Guinea, to the port site, building the construction wharf at the port and building project facilities in Forecariah, including offices and a logistics base.

Although Rio Tinto may consider an export route through Liberia, its current plan includes the construction of a mine at Simandou with an annual capacity of 95 million tonnes, a 650-kilometre 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 11kms offshore from the deep-sea port of Matakang.

Although Rio believes there is huge scope to expand the project in later years, it has now identified a 95 million-tonne operation as the optimal capacity for the initial development and plans to begin mining operations within the next five years.

This newly announced investment comes over and above the $650 million already spent by Rio Tinto in the project since the mining concession was granted in 2006, on exploration, environmental, community development and evaluation work

Rio owns 95 per cent of the southern part of the Simandou project, with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the commercial lending arm of the World Bank, owning the remaining 5 per cent.