(Bloomberg) — For years, the massive iron deposits under Guinea’s mountainous jungle were practically forgotten by the mining industry. Caught up in wrangles between owners and authorities in the West African nation, it seemed the super-rich ore might never be dug up.
That all changed last year, as investors from billionaire promoter Robert Friedland to legendary dealmaker Mick Davis converged on the country in a modern day resource rush. For the first time in years, projects like Simandou—Guinea’s crown jewel deposit—might finally be developed.
That would have huge implications for both Guinea, which is facing political upheaval as President Alpha Conde pushes for a third term, and the global iron ore industry. The new tons threaten to arrive just as steel demand is cooling, and the high-quality iron ore buried in Guinea will pile pressure on existing miners.
Here’s a run-down on the biggest names circling Guinea’s iron ore riches:
The Bauxite Tycoon: Fadi Wazni
The story: Wazni is chairman of the SMB-Winning consortium, a group that’s rapidly developed a bauxite mining business in Guinea in just half a decade. It’s won the right to develop parts of Simandou, but it will require a lot of money to make it happen.
The plan: The group plans to eventually mine 100 million tons a year—making Guinea the world’s third-biggest iron ore shipper, behind just Australia and Brazil. The plan will require spending of $14 billion.
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