Sable Mining Africa Ltd. announced in late January the signing of an Infrastructure Development Agreement (IDA) with the government of Liberia that will allow it to export iron ore from its Nimba iron ore project in southeast Guinea through Liberia using established rail infrastructure.

The Nimba project has an initial JORC-compliant reserve of 53.96 million mt at a grade of 61.6% iron. The project is planned to produce a high-grade, surface-mined direct shipping ore product.

A March 2014 preliminary feasibility study assumes a shipping rate of 3 million mt/y from a project that would require $299 million in development capital. Sable expects to publish the results of a final feasibility study for the project in the first quarter of 2016.

The Nimba project is located near the Guinea-Liberia border, 30 km from the railhead of an established, standard-gauge rail line at Yekepa, Liberia. The rail line provides direct access from Yekepa to the deepwater port of Buchanan.

Sable has been granted a mining license by the government of Guinea that includes permission to export ore through Liberia. Sable’s IDA with the government of Liberia provides a framework for the granting and obtaining of additional rights necessary to implement the Liberian aspects of the Nimba project and for the rehabilitation and expansion of the existing rail corridor.

Subsequent to the signing of the Nimba IDA, Sable announced an increase in the Nimba project’s total JORC-compliant resource to 205.2 million mt at an average in-situ grade of 58.8% iron, up from a previous total of 181.8 million mt at an in-situ grade of 58.8% iron.

The development concept for Nimba calls for open-pit, truck-and-shovel mining from multiple open pits for selective mining and blending. Two mobile plants would produce 3 million mt/y of lump and fines direct shipping ore product.

The product would be hauled by road to a transfer yard near Yekepa, where it would be stockpiled and loaded onto rail wagons for transport to the port of Buchanan.