Leaders from the Republic of Guinea-Conakry, Rio Tinto and the International Finance Corp., (IFC) the private sector wing of the World Bank Group, have announced progress in their development of Guinea’s Simandou Blocks 3 and 4 project—one of the largest iron ore mines in sub-Saharan Africa. Their meeting coincided with President Alpha Conde's participation in London’s G8 talks.

Hosted by billionaire George Soros, the meeting included Rio Tinto CEO Sam Walsh and IFC CEO Jin-Yong Cai, who also spoke on behalf of the Aluminium Corporation of China Ltd. (Chalco), the project’s No. 4 partner. All panelists affirmed the need for transportation infrastructure to encourage national economic development alongside the project; a working group, meanwhile, has been established to pursue investment framework financing.

Simandou is a world-class iron ore mining project in the southeast of the West African nation. The concession licence-holder and project company is Simfer S.A., which is currently 50.35% owned by Rio Tinto, 44.65% Chalco-owned and 5% owned by the IFC. Guinea will have the option of a stake of up to 35% in Simfer S.A. and a 51% stake in a Special Purpose Vehicle to own rail and port infrastructure.

Simandou’s three principal components are an iron ore mine, which could eventually produce 95 million tons, a trans-Guinean railway of 670 km to transport the ore to the Guinean coast, and a new deepwater port south of the capital Conakry in Forécariah prefecture.

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