Friedland allies with key players in Guinea to develop Nimba project

Mount Nimba, Guinea. (Image by UNESCO, Wikimedia Commons).

 Key appointments are expected to fast track the development of the previously dormant project 

Billionaire Robert Friedland-backed High Power Exploration (HPX) appointed the former chief executive officer of the Guinea Alumina Corporation and former Guinean Prime Minister Mamady Youla to the role of CEO of Société des Mines de Fer de Guinée (SMFG).

SMFG is a subsidiary of HPX, which holds the concession for the development, construction and future operation of the high-grade Nimba iron ore project, located in the Republic of Guinea. 

“Youla is a highly experienced mining executive, having been the CEO of GAC from June 2004 to December 2015. GAC is a subsidiary of Emirates Global Aluminium and operates the Sangarédi bauxite mine,” Friedland said in a media statement. “Youla was instrumental in overseeing the construction and operation of the $1.4-billion project, which was one of the largest greenfield investments in Guinea.”

Youla also served as prime minister of Guinea from December 2015 to May 2018 during the second term of President Alpha Condé, a period during which Guinea’s economy grew by 10%.

“We are exceptionally pleased to have Mr Youla join SMFG to lead our Nimba team,” Friedland added. “The depth of his experience as both the former Prime Minister of Guinea and as the leader of a major global alumina producer will be invaluable as we accelerate the development of this world-class iron ore resource.”

Friedland also highlighted that the board of SMFG includes key people such as Abdoulaye Magassouba, the Guinean Minister of Mines and Geology since January 2016; José Carlos Martins, former executive director of Ferrous & Strategy at Vale; and Philip Mitchell, who has held a number of senior leadership positions at Rio Tinto.

The Nimba project is located on the border with Liberia and is considered one of the world’s richest iron ore deposits found in Guinea, holding around 1 billion tonnes of the steelmaking ingredient.

Up until September this year, it was owned by BHP, Newmont Mining and France’s Orano, but HPX bought a 95% stake, arguing that it didn’t make sense to leave it undeveloped.

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