Through its joint venture company Ivindo Iron, Fortescue has signed an exploration convention with the Gabon government for the exploration of the Belinga project and exploration licences covering around 4,500kms2


Fortescue JV to explore Belinga iron-ore project. (Credit: Zac Edmonds on Unsplash)

Fortescue Metals Group, through its joint venture company Ivindo Iron, is set to invest around $90m on exploring the Belinga iron-ore project in the Republic of Gabon.

Ivindo Iron has signed an exploration convention with the Gabon government to explore the Belinga project over the next three years.

The exploration convention includes important commercial and legal terms for the exploration of the Belinga project and exploration licences covering around 4,500kms2.

The signing follows the Gabon government granting Fortescue an exclusivity period to study the opportunity to develop the Belinga deposit, in December last year.

Fortescue chief executive officer Elizabeth Gaines said: “Fortescue is committed to its strategic pillars of investing in the long-term sustainability of the iron ore business and investing in growth.

“Consistent with this approach, Fortescue is pursuing global opportunities in iron ore that align with our strategy and expertise.”

“We welcome the opportunity to assess the Belinga Project, which we believe is potentially one of the world’s largest undeveloped, high-grade hematite deposits.

“We look forward to working with our partner, the Gabon Government and all key stakeholders on this important project as we continue to assess opportunities to optimise growth and returns in our iron ore business.”

Ivindo Iron is a JV between Fortescue and its partner, the Africa Transformation and Industrialization Fund (ATIF), with 80 and 20% stakes respectively.

As per the Gabon Mining Code, the government will receive a free carry interest of 10% in Ivindo Iron, upon receiving the exploitation licences for mining and developing the Belinga project.

Ivindo Iron intends to start exploration and studies immediately after obtaining the exploration licences for the Belinga project.

The JV will initially focus on exploration works to determine the potential size and grade of the iron-ore deposit and to evaluate logistics solutions.

Belinga project is located in the northeast of Gabon, initially discovered in 1955, where subsequent exploration in the 1970s identified high iron and low contaminant mineralisation.

Gabon Minister of Mines Elvis Ossindji said: “Holding a priority position in our country’s transformation and economy diversification strategy, this project has witnessed an acceleration in order to create added value and hundreds of jobs in our country.

“The culmination of the Belinga iron project with the Australian mining company Fortescue Metals Group and ATIF aims to strengthen the mining sector’s contribution for a thriving economy, while making Gabon a benchmark mining destination.”