Fortescue Metals Group has taken another step forward in its hopes of developing an iron ore mine in Gabon.
The Andrew Forrest-controlled miner announced on Friday it had struck an agreement with the government of the Central African country that would allow it to conduct a proposed $US90 million exploration campaign over three years with the granting of exploration licences covering about 4500sqkm.
Fortescue’s chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said the company believed Belinga was potentially one of the world’s biggest undeveloped, high-grade hematite deposits.
The news comes after Fortescue signed an agreement in December for a 36-month exclusivity period to study and negotiate a Mining Convention for the development of the project.
Fortescue holds an 80 per cent stake in Belinga with the Africa Transformation and Industrialisation Fund holding the balance and the government to receive a free carry interest of 10 per cent stake upon the granting of exploitation licences.
Discovered in 1955, the mineralisation at Belinga is expected to deliver a high-grade, low contaminant ore similar to that found at the rich Simandou deposit in Guinea, which is being eyed for development by Rio Tinto, the Chinese-backed Winning Consortium and the West African country’s government.
Fortescue has been progressively assessing the Belinga since 2018. Its shares closed up 18¢ to $19.16.