According to the consortium constructing a new railway in Guinea for transportation of bauxite ore, the line will begin moving product to the coast by June 2021.
Such was the message from Guinean miner Societe Miniere de Boke (SMB) and Singaporean shipping titan Winning Shipping on Friday regarding progress on the US$3 billion project.
The railway is part of a larger effort by the two companies to tap into significant bauxite caches in the Santou and Houda regions, which are roughly 150 miles north of the nation’s capitol of Conakry.
Per the firms, construction of the line is currently being conducted by a pair of Chinese companies. The 85-mile railway will tie into an alumina refinery planned for the Boké special economic zone, which is along the country’s border with Guinea-Bissau.
The consortium will operate the line upon completion for the first 33 years before deeding it over to the state.
Guinea sits atop approximately one third of the Earth’s known bauxite reserves. The country has been a hub of activity in recent years as demand for aluminium skyrockets and the political situation in the country mellows. The country exported 50 million metric tons of the ore in 2017, doubling its output from the year prior.
Though it boasts a tremendous quantity of bauxite ore, bringing it to market has been a challenge. Political and social unrest has made mining the ore a ticklish matter, with riots and strikes cutting into production on a somewhat regular basis. Last year the consortium lost up to 1.2 million metric tons of production to a two-week strike in the spring.
The Guinean government is pushing to modernize and streamline bauxite production, and it continues to look for deals that will make the valuable ore even more marketable. To date there are no refining facilities in the country, limiting the value that can be extracted from Guinean bauxite mines.