Rio Tinto Offer Update on Simandou

Rio Tinto recently provided an update on the Simandou iron ore project in Guinea, which is being progressed in partnership with CIOH, a Chinalco-led consortium, Winning Consortium Simandou (WCS), Baowu, and the Republic of Guinea.

Simandou is the world’s largest untapped high-grade iron ore deposit, according to Rio Tinto. The Simfer joint venture’s mine concession held an estimated total mineral resource as of December 31, 2022 of 2.8 billion metric tons (mt), of which Rio Tinto is reporting the conversion of an estimated 1.5 billion mt to ore reserves that support a mine life of 26 years, with an average grade of 65.3% iron and low impurities. Rio Tinto is also reporting mineral resources exclusive of ore reserves of 1.4 billion mt at 66.1% Fe and low impurities.

Rio Tinto estimates that its initial share of capital expenditure to develop the Simfer mine and the co-developed rail and port infrastructure project is approximately $6.2 billion. “We are continuing to work closely with the Government of Guinea, Chinalco, Baowu and WCS towards full sanction of this world-class project by all partners,” said Rio Tinto Executive Committee lead for Guinea and Copper Chief Executive Bold Baatar. “Simandou will deliver a significant new source of high-grade iron ore that will strengthen Rio Tinto’s portfolio for the decarbonization of the steel industry, along with trans-Guinean rail and port infrastructure that can make a significant contribution to the country’s economic development.”

In what will be the largest greenfield integrated mine and infrastructure investment in Africa, more than 600 km of new multi-use rail together with port facilities will be co-developed by the Republic of Guinea, Simfer and WCS. This will allow the export of up to 120 million mt/y of mined iron ore by Simfer and WCS from their respective Simandou mining concessions in the southeast of the country.

The co-developed infrastructure capacity and associated cost will be shared equally between Simfer, which will develop, own and operate a 60 million mt/y mine in blocks 3 and 4 of the Simandou Project, and WCS, which is developing blocks 1 and 2.

Under the co-development arrangement, Simfer and WCS will deliver separate infrastructure scopes to leverage expertise. Simfer will construct the approximately 70-km Simfer spur rail line and a 60 million mt/y transhipment vessel port, while WCS will construct the dualtrack approximately 536-km main rail line, the approximately 16-km WCS spur rail line and a 60 million mt/y barge wharf.

Once complete, all co-developed infrastructure and rolling stock will be transferred to and operated by the Compagnie du Transguinéen joint venture, in which Simfer and WCS each hold a 42.5% equity stake and the Guinean State a 15% equity stake.

First production from the Simfer mine is expected in 2025, ramping up over 30 months to 60 million mt/y (27 million mt/y Rio Tinto share). The mine will initially deliver a single-fines product before transitioning to a dual-fines product of blast furnace- and direct reduction- ready ore.

Simfer’s initial capital funding requirement for the Simandou project is estimated to be approximately $11.6 billion, of which Rio Tinto’s share is approximately $6.2 billion.

As featured in Womp 2024 Vol 01 -