PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Iron-ore major Fortescue Metals is evaluating the Belinga iron-ore project, in Gabon.
The company on Wednesday announced that it had entered into an agreement with the government of the Republic of Gabon for a 36-month exclusivity period, over an area totalling approximately 5 500 km2 to study and negotiate a Mining Convention for the development of the Belinga iron-ore project.
A separate Gabon mining company will be established to enter into the Mining Convention and to hold the mining tenure over the Belinga iron ore project.
The mining company would be established by an incorporated joint venture (JV), which would be 80% held by Fortescue and 20% by Africa-focused investment fund, Africa Transformation and Industrialisation Fund. The JV will initially focus on exploration works to determine the potential size and grade of the Belinga iron-ore deposit and logistics solutions during the 36-month exclusivity period.
“Consistent with our active business development and exploration programs, Fortescue is pursuing global opportunities in iron-ore that align with our strategy and expertise. We look forward to working with the Gabon government on this project as we continue to invest in assets to optimise growth and returns in our iron ore business,” said Fortescue CEO Elizabeth Gaines.
Gabon’s Minister for Petroleum, Gas, Hydrocarbons and Mines Vincent de Paul Massassa said the agreement with Fortescue was a highly significant announcement for the future growth and development of Gabon’s economy.
“We know that the Belinga deposit is one of the world’s largest high grade iron-ore deposits and the opportunity to work with an established mining company with the track record and reputation of Fortescue will allow us to fully explore the potential that we know exists in the project.”
Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba said that following successful completion of the initial exploration and due diligence work with Fortescue, the country’s aim is to put the Belinga project back on track, building the mining sector’s contribution to Gabon’s economy and delivering training, jobs and skills.
“We welcome this important agreement and opportunity to work with the Gabon government on a project with huge potential for Gabon’s future economic growth and development,” said Fortescue chairperson and founder, Dr Andrew Forrest.
“Fortescue began as a world-class exploration business and we believe that the Belinga iron-ore project is potentially one of the world’s largest undeveloped, high grade hematite deposits.
“The opportunity to assess this project under a period of exclusivity and to partner with local expertise and the Gabon government has the potential to add a significant iron-ore operation to our world class portfolio,” Forrest said.