Historical African iron ore shipment for FMG

(Image source: Fortescue Metals Group.)
(Image source: Fortescue Metals Group.)

Less than a year after Fortescue Metals Group (ASX: FMG) signed a Mining Convention with the Government of Gabon, the mining giant’s first product from its Belinga iron ore project is ready for shipment.

This marks the first time the company has exported iron ore from a port outside of Australia.

Fortescue Metals chief executive Dino Otranto is pleased with the progress following the signing of the Mining Convention on 8 February 2023.

“This is a truly remarkable achievement by the team in such a short period of time and marks a key milestone in the early-stage mine development in Gabon,” he said.

“This project has the potential to revolutionise our portfolio and ultimately create a product that will be the envy of our peers.

“It will also open growth opportunities for Fortescue throughout Africa.

Ivindo Iron is the operating entity for the Belinga project and Fortescue has a 72% indirect interest in the company.

Mr Otranto was joined by Ivindo Iron chief executive Eric Epee and Gabon Minister of Mines M. Hervé Patrick Opiangah in Libreville to celebrate the milestone.

“This initial project phase is providing important insights that will help ensure we set this project up for future success,” Mr Otranto said.

“A major exploration drilling campaign is underway with the results continuing to show that this project has the potential to be significant scale and high-grade.”

Earlier this year, the Australian Mining Review interviewed Mr Otranto about the Belinga iron ore project in Gabon, Africa (excerpt below).

 

Signed through its incorporated joint venture company Ivindo Iron SA, the Mining Convetion governs all legal, fiscal and regulatory regimes for the 4500km2 comprising the Belinga project, including early development for production of up to 2mtpa, while studies advance potential designs of a large-scale development.

Fortescue founder and executive chairman Dr Andrew Forrest AO says the geology of this new West African iron ore hub has the potential to dovetail with the company’s Pilbara iron ore blends, thereby enhancing the iron ore industry of both Australia and Gabon.

The capital estimate for the early-stage mining development is approximately $304m (US$200m), on a 100% basis, with investment over 2023 and 2024.

The development involves conventional open pit mining methods to produce the ore which will be trucked and railed over existing roads and rail infrastructure, as well as shipped from the Owendo Mineral Port, near Libreville.

First ore mining is expected in the second half of 2023.

AMR: I understand the Gabon project is progressing rapidly. Could you provide us a quick update on this project too?

DO: I think sometimes you don’t choose where the bodies are around the planet. There are only one or two high grade unexploited ore bodies left on the planet and one of those happens to be in Gabon, which is truly a Tier One scale deposit on the market. The Gabonese Government was choosing its partners for this project and approached us – because of our track record of delivering projects successfully and our operating performance – to be their partner of choice in Gabon.

 

More than 400 Gabonese (including contractors) have been employed as part of the project to date with more than 50% employed from villages around the project area.

As part of Fortescue’s commitment to support communities where it operates, more than $45m (US$30m) in goods and services have been sourced in Gabon so far for the project.

Studies continue to advance potential designs of a large-scale development.