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“We have given the green light for Euronimba,” Guinean mining minister Mohamed Lamine Fofana told Steel First on the sidelines of the Mining Indaba 2013 on Tuesday February 5.
“The location of the deposit means it makes economic sense to transport through Liberia,” he added.
The Guinean government indicated in 2012 that it would consider allowing iron ore projects in the south of the country to transport ore to the seaborne market through Liberia’s Port Buchanan, instead of through Guinea.
Other iron ore miners in the region including Sable Mining, which is in the early stages of developing a prospective direct-shipping ore mine close to Euronimba, and Vale Beny Steinmetz, which runs the Zogota iron ore mine in southern Guinea.
Both have not received the go-ahead to transport ore through Liberia, Fofana said.
The minister would not comment on whether further transport agreement talks were underway.
“We are completely driven by the economic profitability of our partners,” he said.
The transport agreement will be a massive boost to the project which is located in the remote south-eastern corner of Guinea, close to the Liberian border.
ArcelorMittal started mining iron ore at the Yekepa project in Liberia, close to the Guinean border in 2011. The steel major reconditioned a railway from the mining site to the Port of Buchanan to transport ore to the coast.
Euronimba has completed a concept study of its project and undertaken a prefeasibility study to determine the optimal investment for the area. The mine is expected to start production in 2018.
BHP indicated that it planned to sell its 43.5% stake in Euronimba in 2012.
Former Vale ceo Roger Agnelli's new mining venture B&A Mineracao is understood to be the favoured bidder for the stake.
Guinea is undergoing an extensive review of its mining code, with contracts held by Rusal, Vale and Beny Steinmetz Group Resources being scrutinised by the government.
Follow Michelle Madsen’s tweets from the conference on Twitter: @mmadsen_SF
BHP Billiton and US gold miner Newmont's 600-million-tonne Euronimba joint venture iron ore project in Guinea will be able to transport material to the market through Liberia.