Billionaire mining investor Robert Friedland, through private entity High Power Exploration Inc., is in advanced discussions to take over and develop the Nimba iron ore project in Guinea, Bloomberg News reported May 16, citing people familiar with the situation.
BHP has been assessing options for its project interest since late 2012, with ArcelorMittal reportedly interested in acquiring its 41.3% interest in 2014 and High Power reportedly seeking a 95% stake in July 2018.
Friedland has been in talks with BHP Group, Newmont Goldcorp Corp. and Areva SA, according to Bloomberg, with a final deal to be agreed. The consideration is not expected to be significant due to years of inactivity on the project, although the owners would likely retain a stake if a mine is developed.
Mick Davis, who is currently working on developing the neighboring Simandou iron ore mine via Niron Metals, is also reportedly interested in Nimba.
An important element for the development is limited access to an ArcelorMittal-operated rail line out of Guinea, which Niron Metals can use after securing permission from Liberia and Guinea last month, according to the report.
Nimba hosts resources comprising 935 million tonnes of direct shipping ore grading 63.1% iron, according to a 2014 estimate.