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Guinea Goes For Iron Ventures

FILE: Simandou mountains in Beyla, Guinea, June 4, 2014. In a remote, southeastern corner of Guinea, buried under its green slopes lies some of the planet's finest iron ore, a treasure long coveted by the world's mining giants.

Guinea's military ruler Mamady Doumbouya, has given foreign miners two weeks to establish a joint venture project acceptable to the government to exploit a huge iron ore deposit, state media reported.

Guinea is seeking to exploit one of the world's largest iron ore deposits in an open pit mine at Simandou in southeast Guinea. It is also attempting to build a railway link of about 670 kilometers (415 miles) between the site and a port on the Atlantic coast.

But the government has alleged that the mining giants which are its partners in the operation have failed to live up to expectations.

"We note a discrepancy between your view of the implementation of the terms of the framework agreement, and our expectations," Doumbouya told leaders of the mining giants when they met on Friday in Conakry, according to a broadcast on Saturday.

A 35-year agreement was signed three months ago between the Guinean state, Anglo-Australian firm Rio Tinto Simfer and the Winning Consortium Simandou, set up in part by Chinese and Singaporean interests.

"This situation is not only regrettable, but also unacceptable for the Guinean state," Doumbouya warned.

"To move forward effectively, I expect the creation of the joint venture within fourteen days."

The completion date for the mine and the railway has already been set for December 2024, while the first commercial production should begin no later than March 31, 2025.

Doumbouya created a strategic committee under his own authority which will be responsible for implementing the agreement.

Iron ore exploitation has been held back for years by disputes over mining rights, suspected corruption and the scale of the investments needed in a landlocked part of a country severely lacking in infrastructure.

The entire project would create several thousand direct jobs.

After ousting civilian president Alpha Conde in September 2021 in a military coup, Doumbouya had himself sworn in as interim president. He pledged to return power to elected civilians within three years.