Located in south-east Guinea, the mine is estimated to hold more than four billion tonnes of ore, making it the world’s largest known deposit of its kind.
Work on the $15bn project, which involves a railway and port, stopped almost one year after operations were suspended.
In July 2022, the Guinean Government ordered work to stop at the project to force the shareholders to agree on joint venture (JV) terms.
Rio’s Guinea unit formed a JV with Winning Consortium Simandou (WCS) and the Guinean Government to develop the rail and port to transport high-grade iron ore from the mine to market.
WCS is a consortium of Singapore-based Winning International Group (45%), China Hongqiao subsidiary Weiqiao Aluminium (35%) and Guinean company United Mining Suppliers International (20%).
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In March 2022, all parties signed a pact for the La Compagnie du TransGuinéen (CTG) joint venture, which guarantees 15% of the Simandou iron ore, as well as a 15% stake of free and non-dilutable in railway and port infrastructure to the government.
Ruling junta leader Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya was quoted by Bloomberg News as saying: “My ambition is for the Simandou project to serve as a real catalyst for the economic development of Guinea, and allow the country to become a major player in the world iron ore market.”
Through Simfer, Rio Tinto held rights to Simandou blocks 3 and 4 since 1997.
Simfer is 15% owned by the Guinean Government and 85% by Simfer Jersey, which is a JV between Rio (53%) and Chalco Iron Ore Holdings (CIOH) (47%).