Watson Farley & Williams announced it is advising the Republic of Guinea on the $15bn Simandou project, the world’s largest untapped iron ore deposit.
The Simandou project involves the exploitation of four world class iron ore blocks in the southern region of Guinea, as well as the construction and operation of a 600km main railway line (and connecting spur lines) to connect each of Winning Consortium Simandou and Rio Tinto’s Simandou iron ore blocks to the port, and the construction and operation of a large mineral port for the export to international markets of up to 160mtpa of iron ore.
After the signing of a Framework Agreement in March 2022 between Guinea, Rio Tinto’s Simfer SA and the Winning Consortium Simandou (WCS) and the incorporation of ‘La Compagnie du TransGuinéen SA’ (a joint venture established between them to co-develop the Simandou railways and port infrastructure) in July 2022, the Simandou project reached another significant milestone on December 23, 2022 with the signing of the foundational termsheet for the financing, development, construction and operation of the railway and ports infrastructure; and the addition of China state-owned Baowu Group, China’s largest steelmaker, to the JV partners.
The JV partners include Guinea, Baowu Group (leading a consortium of Chinese steel manufacturers and other investors), Simfer Jersey (a joint venture between Rio Tinto and a consortium led by China’s state- owned Chalco Iron Ore Holdings) and WCS (a consortium comprising the Winning International Group, China Hongqiao Group, Guinean mining logistics company UMS, as well China’s Yantai Port Group).
Construction is currently expected to be completed before December 31, 2024 and operations to begin by 31 March 2025.