|Location||Guinea, West Africa
Latitude: 7Â° 20' (North)
Longitude: 8Â° 57' (West)
|Production||95 million tonnes per year|
|Deposit Type||Banded Iron Formation (BIF)|
|Reserves & Resources||330Mt at 67.2% Fe Measured; 1,335Mt at 65.7% Fe|
|Mining Method||Open pit|
|Mine Life||25 years|
|Mining Equipment||Truck & shovel|
Rio Tinto Simfer
Last updated: April 18, 2012
The world-class iron ore mining project is located in GuinÃ©e ForestiÃ¨re
and Haute GuinÃ©e regions of Guinea in West Africa. It consists
of Blocks 3 and 4 of the mineral deposit. Blocks 1 and 2 are owned by Vale.
Rio Tinto was invited to explore for iron ore deposits in south-east Guinea and in 2002 it drilled long runs of high grade hematite mineralization.
The Mining Convention for Simandou sets out the legal and financial
conditions attached to the future possible development. It was signed by the
ministers of Mines and Finance in November 2002. In February 2003, it was
ratified by the National Assembly and signed into law by
the president of Guinea in February 2003.
In March 2006 Rio Tinto's local subsidiary, Simfer SA, was granted the mining concession stipulated in the convention.
In 2007, Rio Tinto approved funding of US$145 million for prefeasibility studies focused on developing an iron ore mine at Simandou - including the 700 kilometre rail system and a deep water port.
The concession licence-holder and project company is Simfer S.A., which is currently owned 95% by Rio Tinto and 5% by International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group.
2008 studies estimated that an up-front capital investment of over US$6 billion will be required to start the construction of world class mine, rail and port infrastructures at Simandou.
In July 2010, Rio Tinto and Chalco signed a binding agreement to establish a joint venture (JV) covering the development and operation of the Simandou iron ore project in Guinea.
In April 2011, the Government of Guinea and Simfer S.A. signed a Settlement Agreement, which confirms Simfer SA title to a southern concession of Simandou (known as blocks 3 and 4). The Settlement Agreement provides the Government of Guinea with the right to take a stake of up to 35% in Simfer SA (the Mine) and a 51% stake in a special purpose vehicle to build, own and operate Project (Rail & Port) Infrastructure. The Settlement Agreement acknowledges participation by Chinalco through a Joint Venture with Rio Tinto.
The first shipment of ore is scheduled by mid-2015.
The Republic of Guinea is a 246,000 sq km country located in West Africa on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. French is the official language and 85% of the population is Muslim. There is a certain political instability that plagued the country since 2008.
Bauxite, gold diamonds and other metals are being mined in the country. In the late 1800s/early 1900s, explorers identified potentially economic concentrations of ore in south eastern Guinea, in the region surrounding Mt. Simandou. The deposits were not explored in any detail until the 1960s. There are also reports of small exploration missions in the area from the 1950s, during the French colonial period and by a Chinese mission in the 1970s.
The coastal region of Guinea and most of the inland have a tropical climate, with a rainy season lasting from April to November, relatively high and uniform temperatures, and high humidity.
The property is underlain in the west by Archean gneisses and in the east and center by Birimian (Lower Proterozoic) quartzites and related metasedimentary rocks exposed in a chain of hills running NNE up the center of the property.
The quartzites contain highly ferruginous units and a study conducted in 1959-60 outlined a potential iron ore resource of 530 million tons at grades between 48% and 87% Fe.
The Birimian rocks are considered to have been overthrusted from the east onto the Archean basement and occupy a zone of intense tectonism bounded by major fault structures which trend northerly and north-easterly.
The Simandou project will operate two iron ore deposits at the Pic de Fon and Oueleba, located in the southern part of the Simandou Mountain. Each deposit is 6-8 km in length, 1-1.5 km wide, about 300 m in depth (sometimes 500 m).
As of December 2010, measured resources were standing at 330 Mt grading 67.2% iron, 1,335 Mt of indicated at 65.7% iron, and 728 Mt of inferred at 66.1% iron.
Mining is going to be done through open pit mining methods at a rate of 95 million tonnes per year. The mining operation will use conventional drill, blast, load and haul methods.
Simandou South will be the largest integrated iron ore mine and infrastructure project ever developed in Africa, and provides a huge opportunity to transform Guinea.
In 2012, pre-stripping and early mining would commence at both Pic de Fon and Ouelaba pits.
The first shipment of ore is scheduled by mid-2015.
Processing of the iron ore as it is mostly direct shipping ore would comprise primary and secondary crushing. In case that beneficiation is necessary the flow process could be made of SAG grinding, screen and low intensity magnetic separators.
A trans-Guinean railway of approximately 650 kilometres would be built to transport ore from the mining concession to Guinean coast. The ore trains will each comprise up to sic locomotives, 230 ore cars (100 t each) and one crew car. Each train would be 2,500 m long and will travel at up to 80 km/h.
A new deepwater port currently planned to be located 60 km south of Conakry in the Forecariah prefecture would also be built for facilitating the shipping of the iron ore.
Rio Tinto collaborates closely with the Government of Guinea as well as with local and international non-government organizations (NGOs), such as Conservation International and the Royal Botanical Gardens who have assisted Rio Tinto in completing extensive biodiversity studies.
Biodiversity is assessed in baseline studies and the results of these detailed studies have been superimposed on the projects mine plan in order to enable our engineers to take into account biodiversity considerations when designing the structure of the operations. The remaining Upper Guinea forest is restricted to a number of isolated patches that are refuges for the region's unique species, including the chimpanzee and pygmy hippopotamus. One of these isolated patches is the Pic de Fon classified forest. Simandou is also host to a variety of plants, including two endangered species:Eriosema triformum and Gymnosiphon samoritoureanus.
Reforestation is one of the activities that were initiated and supported by Rio Tinto and which employed local people.
The IFC brings relationship value to large scale projects in developing countries. The IFC has considerable expertise and experience in projects such as Simandou. Particularly with regard to maximizing development benefits to government and local communities. IFC involvement is held in high regard by the government, and other stakeholders, including NGO groups and multilateral donor institutions. Business education was also provided to local people.
Among many projects Rio Tinto is also engaged in the raising of different buildings (hospitals, sport arenas, etc) that would benefit local communities. The company also renovated and modernized local roads.
In 2011, Rio Tinto Simfer was awarded an ISO 14001 certification, following an audit conducted at our mine site. This accreditation recognises Rio Tintoâ€™s sterling Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) performance at the Simandou operations.