|Elevation||300 m (980 ft)|
|Length||110 km (68 mi)|
Simandou is a 110 km long range of hills located in the Nzérékoré Region of southeastern Guinea, in the country's mountainous, forested Guinée Forestière region. At the southern end of the range the site of a large iron ore deposit is currently being developed.
There is a town of the same name in nearby Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast).
This town is not to be confused with Siamandou further to the west.
Ecology and Natural History
The Simandou Range is an important area of conservation for the Guinean forest ecosystem of West Africa, one of the world's biologically richest and most endangered terrestrial ecosystems. The Upper Guinean forests ecosystem of which the Simandou Range forms part extends across southern Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and southern Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and western Togo. It is believed once to have covered as much as 420,000 km² but over centuries of human activity nearly 70 percent of the original forest cover has disappeared, leaving isolated patches of different forest types that host ecological communities of exceptional diversity and numerous endemic species.
The variety of habitats found in the Simandou Range include humid Guinean savanna, Western Guinean lowland forest, Guinean montane and gallery forests, and the rare and endangered West African montane grassland habitat. The Pic de Fon forest at the southern end of the range is a relatively intact area of approximately 25,600 ha that contains many typical flora and fauna of the Upper Guinean forests ecosystem, including endangered species such as the Nimba otter shrew (Micropotamogale lamottei), the West African chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus), the Diana monkey (Cercopithecus diana diana) and the Sierra Leone Prinia (Schistolais leontica), a bird of the West African highlands known from only three other sites in the world. Frog Hylarana fonensis is known from nowhere else.
The area has so far been protected by relative isolation but its biodiversity is now threatened by the encroachment of agriculture, illegal and unregulated bush meat hunting, logging, uncontrolled bush fires, road development, potentially destructive mining operations and human population growth. Government agencies' lack of capacity to enforce environmental legislation increases the threat. Land tenure conflicts and ecologically destructive subsistence farming practices (slash and burn agriculture), exacerbated by poverty, also pose problems for the environment.
Mining and Transport
Simandou is planned to become the site of the largest integrated iron-ore mine and infrastructure project ever developed in Africa.
The Pic de Fon and Ouéléba iron deposits are located approximately 4 km from one another at the southern end of the Simandou Range, approximately 550 km ESE of the capital Conakry. Both deposits are approximately 7.5 km in length and up to 1 km wide. At both banded iron formations (metamorphosed to staurolite-grade itabirites) have been enriched to form haematite and haematite-goethite mineralisations. The potential yield of the two deposits is estimated at 2.25 billion tonnes of high-grade iron ore.
In 2008 Rio Tinto Group, the licensee of the Simandou concession, was ordered by the Guinean government to relinquish the northern half (Blocks 1 and 2, east and southeast of Kerouane) to BSG Resources, a company controlled by the Israeli diamond investor Beny Steinmetz. In March 2010 Rio Tinto and its biggest shareholder, Aluminum Corporation of China Limited (Chinalco), signed a preliminary agreement to develop Rio Tinto's iron ore project.
Mining operations are expected to start before the end of 2015. Rio Tinto Limited plans to build a 650 km railway to transport iron ore from the mine to the coast, near Matakong, for export. Much of the Simandou iron ore is expected to be shipped to China for steel production.
The mine is expected to produce up to 95 MTpa of ore.
On Sunday, April 14, 2013, Frederic Cilins, an agent for Beny Steinmetz's company, was arrested in Jacksonville, Florida as a result of an FBI investigation that began in January 2013 to establish whether potential illegal payments made to obtain mining concessions in Guinea had been transferred to the United States in breach of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which allows U.S. officials to pursue bribery cases abroad. Cilin's detention followed covert FBI recordings of a series of meetings that allegedly showed he had plotted the destruction of documents which it is claimed could have shown the Simandou exploitation rights were acquired following the payment of millions of dollars in bribes to Guinea government officials.
- Iron ore Rio Tinto Group
- http://www.usaid.gov/gn/gn_new/news/2004/040407_simandou_gda/index.htm GDA (Global Development Alliance) Promotes Forest Conservation, Community Development, USAID Guinea, 20 April 2004, Accessed 11.12.2010
- Frost, Darrel R. (2013). "Hylarana fonensis (Rödel and Bangoura, 2004)". Amphibian Species of the World 5.6, an Online Reference. American Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
- http://www.hemscott.com/servlet/HsPublic?context=ir.access&ir_option=RNS_NEWS&item=64497524081696&ir_client_id=1245&transform=newsitem Rio Tinto - Iron ore resources, Simandou, Republic of Guinea, Rio Tinto News Announcement RNS Number 4634V, 29 May 2008, Accessed 12.12.2010
- "GUINEA: SIMANDOU PROJECT GAINS MOMENTUM". Railways Africa. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
- "Rio Ordered to Give Half of Guinea Concession to BSG (Update2)". Bloomberg. 11 December 2008.
- "Rio Tinto, Chinalco, agree to develop Guinea iron ore field". AFP. 19 March 2010.
- "U.S. arrests man linked to Israeli tycoon in Africa graft probe". Reuters. April 15, 2013. Retrieved April 17, 2013.
- "FBI arrest agent over bribery cover up claim in battle over $10bn mountain". The Guardian. April 16, 2013. Retrieved April 17, 2013.
- Rio Tinto Simandou website home page, accessed 25 December 2010
- "Rio's chairman can't tell whole story of Guinea chat", by Matthew Stevens, The Australian, 12 September 2008, accessed 25 December 2010
- Rio Tinto Iron Ore website Simandou page, accessed 25 December 2010
- "Mining Groups Target West Africa", by William Macnamara, FT.com, 18.5.2010, site accessed 25 December 2010, page now behind payscreen
- MSN Map Simandou, Guinea, accessed 12 December 2010
- "Guinean montane forests". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. Retrieved 12 December 2010.