A mining company controlled by billionaire Robert Friedland has secured access to a Liberian railway that opens the way for it to tap vast iron ore reserves in neighboring Guinea.
The deal with the Liberian government provides High Power Exploration Inc. with an outlet for its Nimba concession, which holds an estimated 1 billion tons of high-grade iron ore. The miner expects to start work by 2024 on a rail link that will connect with a line running to Liberia’s Buchanan port.
“The rail is critical for us to be able to export our mineral production,” Guy de Selliers, chairman of Societe des Mines de Fer de Guinee, HPX’s subsidiary in Guinea, said in an interview. “The fact that we now know we’ll have access de-risks the whole project.”
Liberian Information Minister Ledgerhood Rennie didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
HPX plans to start producing at Nimba in 2027 and wants to eventually extract about 450 million tons of iron ore. The company estimates it will cost almost $2.8 billion to develop the mine, including $600 million for rail and port investments in Liberia.
HPX also sees the potential to expand mining operations in northern Liberia and southern Guinea, de Selliers said.
Buchanan port and its rail connection is being upgraded by ArcelorMittal SA. Liberia is currently reviewing an agreement with the steelmaking giant on who will be able to use that link.
(By Katarina Hoije, with assistance from Leanne de Bassompierre)