Hong Kong - Global mining company Rio Tinto, confirmed on Friday it expects to delay first production from the giant Simandou iron ore deposit in Guinea by at least three years to 2018.
Rio's Guinean ambitions date back to the height of the boom, when major miners looked to increasingly difficult geographies in search of growth.
The government confiscated half of the Simandou project in 2008, accusing Rio of moving too slowly, but the two sides settled differences in 2011, with a deal that set a 2015 target for first production.
Yet, as Rio and the government continue to hammer out details including the final framework underpinning the project, industry analysts as well as Guinea's own mines minister have said that date is unrealistic and would be missed.
“The production date will come out to be what it will be, once the investment framework is concluded and the financing is in place,” said Alan Davies, head of Rio's diamonds and minerals division, who is also responsible for Simandou.
“Our current estimate is that if everything goes extremely well and rapidly production would be around 2018.”
Simandou is one of the world's largest untapped deposits of iron ore.
The project's development - along with associated rail and port infrastructure - could cost $20 billion or more and is expected to galvanise the region and turn Guinea into a major exporter.
Rio is developing the southern half of Simandou, but said last month it could be interested in a larger area, including the remaining half held by rivals. - Reuters