Railway construction and tunnelling works have commenced around the Simandou iron ore project in the southeast of Guinea, a mine in west Africa which is set to reshape global iron ore trading patterns.

A consortium, which includes Singapore’s Winning Shipping, Guinean mining logistics firm United Mining Supply (UMS), Chinese aluminium producer Shandong Weiqiao and Guinea’s government, won a tender in 2019 to develop blocks 1 and 2 in the northern area of Simandou. Simandou deposits have been estimated at 2.4bn tonnes of high-grade ore, with much of it earmarked for Chinese consumption.

Simandou iron ore exports will potentially work out at 68 capesize voyages a year, according to estimates by Splash. The consortium will build a 650 km railway line and a deepwater port at Matakong on the Atlantic coast aiming to bring the two blocks into production by 2025.

The railway will cross the Madina-Oula subprefecture through a 11.7 km tunnel under a mountain. A second tunnel, with a total length of 9 km, will also be built in the subprefecture of Ouré-Kaba in the prefecture of Mamou.

According to the Guinean Ministry of Mines, the tunnels will take three years to build, between June 1 2021 and January 2024.

Winning Shipping has been growing its cape fleet dramatically in recent years, and is principally engaged on the growing commodity ties between West Africa and China.