The Republic of Congo (ROC) Government has awarded Equatorial Resources a mining licence for the Mayoko-Moussondji iron project.
The licence is initially valid for 25 years after which it can be renewed for a further 15 years.
Equatorial's licence application was submitted in 2013 and included a detailed technical feasibility study and an environmental and social impact assessment.
The application also included community development plans, and the completion of technical reviews by relevant government agencies.
Located in the south-west region of the ROC, Mayoko-Moussondji currently has total indicated and inferred resources of 917 million tonnes (Mt) grading at 31.4% of iron, including a hematite resource of 182Mt grading at 35.7% iron.
The mining licence covers the entire 615.5km² area containing the mineral resource, which represents about 62% of the existing exploration licence of 1,000km².
Equatorial Resources managing director and CEO John Welborn said the approval continues to demonstrate the government's support for the company and for the Mayoko-Moussondji iron project.
"Securing the mining licence is an extremely positive step in the development of the project and puts Equatorial in a strong position to advance discussions and negotiations with potential partners and financiers," Welborn said.
"We look forward to continuing to work with the ROC Government to quickly conclude the associated mining convention agreement for Mayoko-Moussondji."
The mining convention is anticipated to advance Equatorial's existing contracts with the rail and port agencies into final definitive commercial agreements and will complete all government approvals required to develop and mine the project.
Equatorial noted that Mayoko-Moussondji is anticipated to contribute significantly to ROC's economy and will directly and indirectly employ and train a significant number of Congolese nationals.
Image: Equatorial's permit locations in the Mayoko region. Photo: courtesy of Equatorial Resources.