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Rio Tinto to Launch the World’s Largest Mining Project After 27 Years

Rio Tinto has been present in Serbia since 2004, when it discovered a new mineral, “jadarite,” a combination of lithium and boron, while exploring the region of Western Serbia. Despite public and environmental organizations’ reactions, Rio Tinto remains persistent. Their determination is evident from a case in Africa, where they waited 27 years to start a new mining operation.

The world’s largest mining project, worth $20 billion, will begin this year after 27 years of waiting, marked by failures and scandals. The project involves the extraction of iron ore, construction of railways, and ports in a remote part of West Africa.

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Coups, Legal Battles, and Corruption

Rio Tinto first secured an exploration permit in the Simandou mountains in southeastern Guinea, 550 km from the coastal capital, in 1997. Since then, the country, with a population of 13 million, has experienced two coups, four heads of state, and three presidential elections, reports the Financial Times.

Simultaneously, Rio Tinto has had six CEOs, lost half of its license, engaged in prolonged legal battles with several corporate rivals, settled corruption charges with U.S. authorities, and even attempted to exit the project, only for the sale to fall through.

The project in Guinea is too costly for any single mining company to develop independently. It is a partnership between Rio Tinto, the Guinean government, and at least seven other companies, including five from China. Rio Tinto’s share of the total costs is estimated to be $6.2 billion.

The ore Rio Tinto plans to mine has an average iron content of over 65%, among the highest in the world, earning it the nickname “caviar of iron ore.”

Source: Bonitet

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