LONDON/CONAKRY (Reuters) – The race to mine Guinea’s iron ore has started although the focus is not on its giant Simandou deposits but on smaller finds whose output could be transported via Liberia if ArcelorMittal shares its railway, banking and industry sources said.
Guinea’s aspirations to develop Simandou, the world’s largest known untapped iron ore deposit, have foundered because of the cost of infrastructure and protracted legal disputes.
Guinea says it is still trying to reach a deal with China to build the roughly 650 km (406 miles) of railway needed to transport the iron ore through Guinea.
In the interim, the government has signed economic cooperation deals with Liberia, which would allow iron ore to be transported from Guinea’s smaller Zogota project along a railway through the neighboring West African nation.
Zogota is being developed by former Xstrata boss Mick Davis, who wants to relaunch his mining career and says he has clinched an outline government accord on Liberian shipment.