Work on Guinea’s massive Simandou iron ore mine and infrastructure project is set to restart in March, Guinea’s military junta said in a Jan. 30 statement seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
Guinean authorities ordered work on Simandou to stop in July last year in a bid to force the shareholders – which include Rio Tinto, Aluminium Corporation of China (Chinalco), China Baowu Steel (Baowu) and Winning Consortium Simandou (WCS) – to agree joint venture terms.
The partners aim for final terms to be agreed at the latest on Feb. 28, Guinea’s military junta said in a statement summarizing a visit by coup leader Colonel Mamady Doumbouya and other top officials to China from Jan. 11-22, during which they met with Baowu.
“The mission was excellent and conclusive as it commits to the huge Simandou project restarting as soon as possible in March 2023, subject to negotiations on the project terms being finalized on Feb. 28 at the latest,” the junta’s communications department said.
Rio Tinto, Chinalco, Baowu and WCS did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
According to the statement, Doumbouya gave Baowu his support for its investment in Simandou, but reminded the company of the deadlines the project must meet.
In March last year the junta, which took power in a Sept. 2021 coup, said the Simandou infrastructure – a 600-kilometre railway and a port – must be completed by Dec 2024 and production must start by March 31, 2025, a timeline analysts say is highly ambitious.
(By Saliou Samb, Sofia Christensen and Helen Reid; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)