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Unlocking Simandou: A milestone in Guinea’s iron ore saga

The announcement of the US$15 billion financing agreement for the Simandou iron ore project marks a significant milestone in the long and tumultuous journey toward unlocking this massive untapped resource. With estimated reserves exceeding 2 billion tons of high-grade iron ore, Simandou holds immense potential, albeit hampered by decades of delays and challenges ranging from corruption scandals to infrastructure hurdles.

The division of the Simandou deposit into two concessions, Simandou North and Simandou South, reflects the complex web of stakeholders involved in the project. The recent financing agreement, focused on building rail and port infrastructure, underscores the critical need for robust logistical support to exploit Simandou’s vast resources.

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Rio Tinto’s involvement in Simfer, the joint venture responsible for Simandou South, highlights the multinational nature of the project and the significant capital expenditure required for development. Moreover, the alignment of interests among key players, including the Guinean government and various international corporations, underscores the growing attractiveness of Simandou amid the steel industry’s decarbonization efforts.

While the 2025 target for first ore delivery may appear ambitious given the infrastructure challenges, Project Blue’s assessment of a more realistic timeline in 2026/2027 underscores the complexity of the endeavor. Nonetheless, the momentum behind Simandou’s development suggests that after decades of anticipation, the dream of unlocking this valuable resource may finally be within reach.

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