The mining convention, signed with the government of Gabonese Republic, governs all the legal, fiscal, and regulatory regimes for the Belinga project, and will enable first mining at the project in the second half of calendar 2023
Australia-based iron ore company Fortescue Metals, through its joint venture company Ivindo Iron, has signed the mining convention for the Belinga iron ore project in Gabon.
The mining convention, signed with the government of Gabonese Republic, will enable first mining at the project, which is planned for the second half of calendar 2023.
It governs all the legal, fiscal, and regulatory regimes for the 4,500km2 Belinga project area.
Also, it enables early development for production of up to two million tonnes per annum, while studies advance potential designs of a large-scale development.
In addition, the mining convention will open growth opportunities for Fortescue Metals and Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) throughout Africa, said the company.
Ivindo Iron is the operator for the Belinga project with 90% in the Belinga JV.
Fortescue founder and executive chairman Dr Andrew Forrest AO said: “The climate threat is now incorporated as a key risk by government’s the world over. Critically, it’s considered a threat to Gabon’s rich natural heritage.
“Geological mapping and sampling programs have confirmed our initial thoughts that this new West African iron ore hub may well one day prove to be among the largest in the world.
“The key aspect of this particular geology is its potential to dovetail with Fortescue Pilbara ore blends. In doing so it will preserve and enhance the iron ore industry of both Australia and Gabon.”
The Belinga iron ore project, located in the northeast of Gabon, was initially discovered in 1955, and seen subsequent exploration in the 1970s.
Its geology and iron ore potential is similar Simandou in its early stages of exploration, with its multi-billion tonne potential and high grades.
The early-stage development at the project is estimated to require around $200m capital with investment over calendar 2023-24.
The development includes conventional open pit mining to produce the ore which will be trucked and railed over existing roads and rail infrastructure.
It will then be shipped abroad from the Owendo Mineral Port, near Libreville.
Andrew added: “We have enjoyed strong support and positive feedback from local communities. We will continue to work together to maintain Fortescue’s highest standards of environmental and community consultation.
“This emerging iron region is potentially massive. If it fulfils its promise, it will complement our Australian operations through enhancing our blended products, extending our mine lives and opening new global markets.
“This support, as indicated by Fortescue’s selection to develop Belinga by the Gabonese government has facilitated Fortescue’s transition to a global green resources, green energy and products company.”