Mining and materials company Rio Tinto is set to spend around $6.2bn to develop the Simfer mine and associated rail and port infrastructure at Simandou iron ore project in Guinea.

Rio Tinto, as part of its Simfer joint venture (JV), owns blocks 3 and 4 of the Simandou project, while Winning Consortium Simandou (WCS) and the government of Guinea own blocks 1 and 2.

The Simfer JV, WCS and the Republic of Guinea will build more than 600km of new multi-use rail, along with other port facilities at the iron ore project.

The new infrastructure will allow the project partners to export up to 120 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of iron ore mined from their respective Simandou mining concessions.

The total initial funding requirement for the development of the Simandou iron ore project is estimated at $11.6bn, and Rio Tinto’s share of initial capital expenditure totals $6.2bn.

Rio Tinto Guinea executive committee lead and copper chief executive Bold Baatar said: “We are continuing to work closely with the Government of Guinea, Chinalco, Baowu and WCS towards full sanction of this world-class project by all partners.

“Simandou will deliver a significant new source of high-grade iron ore that will strengthen Rio Tinto’s portfolio for the decarbonisation of the steel industry, along with trans-Guinean rail and port infrastructure that can make a significant contribution to the country’s economic development.”

Simandou is the world’s largest untapped high-grade iron ore deposit, with an estimated total mineral resource of 2.8 billion tonnes, as of 31 December 2022, said Rio Tinto.

Simfer JV will build around 70km Simfer spur rail line and a 60mtpa transhipment vessel (TSV) port, while WCS will build around 536km of dual track main rail line, 16km spur rail line and a 60mtpa barge wharf.

Upon completion, all the co-developed infrastructure will be transferred to, and owned by the Compagnie du Transguinéen (CTG) joint venture.

The CTG JV will be owned by Simfer and WCS with a 42.5% stake each, and the Republic of Guinean will hold a 15% stake.