Billionaire mining investor Robert Friedland has won the rights to develop an iron ore deposit in Guinea that owners including BHP Group have left undeveloped for years.
Friedland has been in talks with BHP, Newmont Goldcorp Corp. and Orano for months to secure the right to develop the Nimba deposit on Guinea’s border with Liberia. Guinean president Alpha Conde attended a signing ceremony in the capital, Conakry, on Thursday to agree to Friedland’s High Power Exploration group buying 95% of the project.
While Guinea has some of the world’s richest iron ore deposits, including the fabled Simandou mine that Rio Tinto Group, Vale SA and billionaire Beny Steinmetz have fought over for years, it has never exported a ton.
One of the major obstacles has been the cost of building a railway to export out of Guinea, rather than using a much shorter route through Liberia.
“After several decades of attempts, today we are confident that we are going to get the ore into the market,” Guinean Mining Minister Abdoulaye Magassouba told reporters. Guinea and HPX have agreed on terms for an updated mining convention, the company said in a statement.
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