Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto is poised to commence a $20bn mining project in West Africa’s Simandou mountains following a delay of nearly 27 years, the Financial Times reported.

The project, which encompasses iron ore extraction, rail and port development in south-eastern Guinea, is touted as one of the world’s most significant mining ventures.

After securing an exploration licence in 1997, Rio Tinto has faced numerous challenges over the years, including legal tussles, corruption charges and operational setbacks.

It also considered quitting the project, although the plan did not materialise.

The company envisions the Guinea iron ore, rail and port plan to herald a ‘new era’ of mining, with the project’s scale necessitating a collaborative approach to development.

Considered too expensive for any single miner to develop alone, the project is now a partnership between Rio Tinto, the Guinean Government and at least seven other companies, including five from China.

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By GlobalData

Rio Tinto will build one iron ore mine, the Simfer project, in partnership with a consortium led by aluminum producer Chinalco.

The second mine, known as the WCS project, will be built by the steel-producing company Baowu in partnership with a consortium led by Singapore-based Winning International Group.

Additionally, a 552km railway and a deep-water port are part of the infrastructure plans, with Rio Tinto and the Chinalco consortium also funding a 70km rail spur to connect to the main line.

The first shipment of ore is expected in 2025, with an aim to reach full production of 60 million tonnes per year by 2028, which would account for approximately 5% of the global seaborne iron ore market.

Recently, Rio Tinto was also in the news after approving a $77m (A$110m) investment to support the Rhodes Ridge iron ore project in the East Pilbara region of Western Australia.