The Boke Bauxite mining project is a surface mining operation in the Boke region of the Republic of Guinea. Image courtesy of UMS.
Ore is transported through a dedicated and well maintained haul road with efficient dust control methods. Image courtesy of UMS.
Ore material is transported by trucks to river terminals from where barges transfer the materials to Capesize vessels. Image courtesy of UMS.

The SMB-Winning Boke Bauxite mining project is a surface mining operation in the Boke region of the Republic of Guinea, West Africa. The mine is being developed by Société Minière de Boké (SMB), a mining company owned by SMB-Winning consortium.

The consortium comprises of Winning Shipping, a Singapore-based shipping company; Shandong Weiqiao Pioneering Group, a China-based aluminium production company; and United Mining Supply (UMS), a Guinea-based transportation and logistics company and the Government of Guinea with a 10% share in the project.

The first tonne of bauxite was shipped in July 2015 from the terminal at Katougouma river terminal. As of 2018, SMB-Winning exported a total of 40Mt of bauxite.

With an initial capital expense of up to £543m ($700m) the 2017-2022 plan for the project is expected to invest up to $4bn into the Guinean economy. The project employs an 8,000 strong workforce of which 91% are Guineans.

SMB-Winning Boke Bauxite mining project development

The first bauxite reserves were discovered in 2014 by SMB geologists in a non-cadastral and unexplored area, 30km north of Rio Nunez. SMB carried out rapid drilling campaigns and on-site laboratory testing of drill samples to identify prospects.

Research permit for the exploitation of reserves was obtained in January 2015, while feasibility report was released in June in the same year. Bauxite export licence was granted to SMB in July 2015.

SMB received research permits for the Dabiss area in March 2016 and was issued two exploitation permits in December 2016. SMB also received an industrial mining license for the Malapouya area within the Boke prefecture in March 2017, which covers an area of 146km².

Mining methods and ore export system

The mining operations at SMB-Winning Boke Bauxite mine uses surface mining methods to extract ore. Mining operations are currently being carried out at Kaboye and Dabiss plateau and Malapouya.

SMB uses the Vermeer T1255 terrain leveller for its surface mining operations at the Boke region. The company was earlier able to cut the surface at 21% or 120 degrees to extract surface minerals but the leveller enabled to cut 36% or 200. The leveller eliminates the need for a primary crusher unit. The extracted material is approximately less than 200mm, which enables it to be directly loaded to barges and ready for export.

Ore transportation is via a dedicated and well maintained haul road with efficient dust control methods. UMS is responsible for the land transportation part of the materials. The mined ore is transported by trucks to two river terminals located in Dapilon and Katouguma.

The Winning Group is responsible for exporting the ore from the river terminals. The mined ore is loaded on to 8,000t capacity barges, which transfer them on to 220,000t capesize vessels for export to the port of Yantai in China. The imported ore is processed for aluminium extraction by Shandong Weiqiao .

SMB-Winning Boke Bauxite mine infrastructure

The Kaouguma terminal covers an area of 41ha and features four quays or loading bays with a capacity of loading eight barges per day. Two of the four loading bays are equipped with mobile loader assisted 25Mt fixed rotating harbour cranes. The third loading bay is equipped with a 3,500t/h conveyor belt, while the last has a receiving cradle for the third loading bay.

The Dapilon terminal has three loading stations each equipped with rotary cranes and is capable of loading six barges. A 35km mine-port road from Malapouya was built to accommodate 120 trucks for transportation of mined ore to the terminal. The terminal exported its first barge of ore to China in October 2016.

The two river terminals account for an export capacity of 50Mt annually. A total of 33 barges and 45 tug boats are in service to transport ore materials from the river terminals to the capsize vessels.

The marine and transhipment infrastructure at the terminals includes various floating cranes including Boke Winning Star, Winning Giant, Winning Titan and Winning Sunrise for a transhipment capacity of 20Mt per day. The floating cargo terminals (FCT), Winning Unity and Winning Power, with a loading capacity of 50Mt per day are also part of the infrastructure.