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Rio Tinto’s board backs giant Simandou iron ore mine in Guinea

Rio Tinto’s board has signalled its support to develop the Simandou iron ore project in Guinea, the world’s biggest untapped resource of the key steelmaking ingredient.

Rio controls half of the Simandou deposit, which spent years in limbo because of disputes over ownership rights and the large investments required to extract and transport the ore. The project could have big implications for the iron ore market — Rio’s share of the deposit could deliver more than 100 million tonnes a year of the highest-quality ore, just as most in the industry expects demand to plateau.

Getting Simandou under development would be a second major win for chief executive Jakob Stausholm, after striking a deal with Mongolia earlier this year on Rio’s flagship copper project. Since taking the helm just over a year ago, the CEO has prioritised getting stalled projects moving, while rebuilding the company’s reputation after a series of missteps.

Rio previously struggled to reach an agreement with a rival consortium developing the other half of the project on the building of a 650km railway linking the mine to a planned port. Those tensions eased last month after the Guinean government brokered a deal between the two parties.

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