China’s Kingho Group dispatched its first ship load from Tonkolili mines to China from the Port of Pepel, Sierra Leone, according to local media. The Tonkolili mine has an estimated resources of 13.7bn mt.
In September, the government of Sierra Leone handed over the operations of Tonkolili mines to China after Shandong Iron & Steel Group that early owned the mine relinquished the site, the railway and the port to export iron ore to the government of Sierra Leone. Shandong Steel, a state-owned company, had brought the mine in 2015. Sierra Leone cancelled Shandong license in 2019 forcing it to stop operations. Kingho Investment Company took charge of the project in September.
Kingho has plans to built a processing plant for high grade products and an industrial park in Sierra Leone, reported China’s Xinhua, without revealing the timeline for the project.
Chinese authorities are trying to diverse their iron ore import destinations amid trade spat with Australia and supply disruptions in Brazil, China’s two leading ore exporters.