African Minerals has received phase 1 funding for the development of its Tonkolili project in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

The company received $370m through a loan facility, with 10% remaining subject to Canadian regulatory approval.

Phase 1 is designed to deliver a production capability of 12Mtpa of Direct Shipping Ore as lump and sinter fines with a grade in excess of 58% Fe. The first ore is expected to be loaded for export in Q4 2011.

As part of phase 1, the firm has recently commissioned BCM Group as the mining contractor.

The operating cost of phase 1 is estimated to be approximately $27.50 per ton, according to the firm.