BEIJING, Jan 30 (Reuters) – A ship carrying iron ore from west Africa’s Tonkolili mine set sail for China from the Port of Pepel in Sierra Leone on Friday, China’s official Xinhua news agency said.
The shipment was the first export from the mine since Chinese firm Kingho Investment Co Ltd took over the project, Xinhua said. The report did not detail the size of the shipment.
Kingho could not immediately be reached for comment on Saturday.
The mine, which has estimated resources of 13.7 billion tonnes, was previously owned by China’s state-backed Shandong Iron & Steel Group.
Shandong bought the mine in 2015 but stopped operations when the Sierra Leone government cancelled its licence, along with those of several other big projects, in 2019 amid a push to ensure the country benefited from its natural resources. (https://reut.rs/3t8Q36e)
Kingho restarted operations at the site, complete with a rail and port transportation system, last September, Xinhua cited the company’s director as saying.
Kingho plans to construct a plant to process high grade products from raw magnetite and build an industrial park in the future, Xinhua reported, without providing a timetable.
China has been trying to ease its reliance of overseas iron ore, which accounts for 80% of its current consumption per year. The country aims to build one or two major overseas iron ore mines by 2025.
The most-traded iron ore futures prices on Dalian Commodity Exchange surged over 50% in 2020 and broke above 1,000 yuan ($155.64) a tonne to a record high.
($1 = 6.4250 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Min Zhang and Norihiko Shirouzu; editing by Jane Wardell)
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