Bauxite and alumina, iron ore: SMB-Winning consortium moves into Guinean iron ore

African Mountain

Société Minière de Boké-Winning Africa (SMB-Winning) has won the right to develop half of the Simandou deposit in Guinea which is thought to contain around 2Bnt of high-grade iron ore. The consortium includes Chinese aluminium producer Shandong Weiqiao (a subsidiary of China Hongqiao) as well as logistics firms Winning Shipping (Singapore) and United Mining Supply (France). It is a major player in the global bauxite sector.

SMB-Winning plans to produce 110Mtpy of iron ore starting in 2026, with the project set to cost US$15Bn. The first phase could include development of the mine (with 60Mtpy of iron ore production) as well as port and rail infrastructure at a cost of US$8Bn. The consortium has been in discussions with potential interested backers including state-owned China Railway Construction Corporation and major steel mills.

Roskill View

The announcement reflects the West African country’s latest attempt to develop its industrial sectors based on foreign investment. It has already advanced its aluminium sector aggressively with production growing rapidly in recent years thanks to investment from Alcoa, Rio Tinto and Dadco.

Rio Tinto had previously tried to develop the other half of the Simandou deposit but, even with Chinese investment, was unable to bring the project to fruition. Iron ore has never been exported from Guinea.

Guinea is the world’s third-largest producer of bauxite behind Australia and China, having overtaken Brazil in 2017. Most production is of metallurgical grades but there has been renewed interest in Guinea as a supplier of non-metallurgical bauxite in recent years.

SMB-Winning has mined bauxite in Guinea since 2014. It is constructing Guinea’s first alumina refinery, using local metallurgical-grade bauxite and producing aluminium. When it was announced in November 2018, the 1Mtpy plant was said to be part of a US$3Bn project to develop Guinea’s bauxite industry.

The tenth edition of Roskill’s report on non-metallurgical bauxite and alumina was released in December 2019 and includes analysis of recent industry trends on supply, demand, trade and prices, as well as providing forecasts over the next decade to 2029 and profiles of the main producers. Click here to download the brochure and sample pages for the report, or to access further information.

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This article was written by Suzanne Shaw. Please get in touch below if you wish to discuss further:

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