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Guinea/China: Negotiations turn complicated over Simandou iron ore project

By Christophe Le Bec
Posted on Tuesday, 11 May 2021 09:28, updated on Sunday, 5 September 2021 21:36

View of Mount Simandou, in south-eastern Guinea © Rio Tinto

Guinea’s Simandou iron ore project was awarded to the WCS Chinese-Singaporean-Guinean consortium in November 2019. However, negotiations between partners have been dragging on.

The shareholders of Winning Consortium Simandou (WCS), the Guinean authorities and their operational as well as financial partners have long been engaged in discussions, which are still far from over.

However, construction on the mega-project’s first piece of infrastructure was finally launched on 23 March, one year and three months after the Sino-Singaporean-Guinean consortium was awarded its mining licences. The aim of this project is to develop Simandou, the continent’s largest iron ore deposit.

A “historic milestone”

On that day, Sun Xiushun, chairman of the WCS board of directors, laid the foundation stone of the two railroad tunnels that will be constructed in the Madina-Oula prefecture, south of Kindia, along the Sierra Leonean border. This infrastructure will be the longest of its kind in West Africa, as it will be made up of some 20km of underground tunnels.

He described the event as a “historic milestone” for the railway part of the project. He also reiterated that it would not only be used to transport iron ore from Simandou, but also to transport other mineral, agricultural and forestry resources from along the 679km route from the mine to the future ore port of Matakong.