High Power Exploration (HPX), a private company headed by billionaire mine financier Robert Friedland, has been granted the right to acquire a 95% interest in the world class Nimba iron ore deposit in the Republic of Guinea, West Africa.
The Nimba deposit, which is located in south-eastern Guinea, is estimated to contain around one billion tonnes of high-grade iron ore, with very low levels of impurities, according to a 2015 review by the United States Geological Survey. Iron ore of this quality is essential for reducing energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and slag production during the steel making process.
The asset is currently held by BHP Billiton Ltd. [BHP-NYSE; BHPLF-OTC], Newmont Goldcorp Corp., [NGT-TSX; NEM-NYSE], and Orano SA (formerly known as Areva, the French nuclear utility).
News of the acquisition was announced by HPX President Eric Finlayson at a signing ceremony in Conakry attended by Republic of Guinea President Alpha Conde and Kgalema Motlanthe, the former president of South Africa.
Motlanthe and Guy de Selliers de Moranville have agreed to become co-Chairmen of the HPX subsidiary that will hold the Nimba asset. Both have joined the board of Societe des Mines de Fer d Guinee (SMFG), the Guinean company that will operate the project. De Selliers is an international financier and non-independent director of Friedland company Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. [IVN-TSX; IVPAF-OTC]
“I am delighted that HPX will work with the Government and people of Guinea to bring the Nimba deposit into production and to help his Excellency President Conde realize his long-standing vision of seeing Guinea become a world-class producer of iron ore,” Finlayson said.
HPX is currently funding Fjordland Exploration Inc. [FEX-TSXV], which has been exploring the Pants Lake intrusion, located 80 km south of the Voisey’s Bay intrusion which hosts the legendary nickel mine of the same name. The Voisey’s Bay Mine was discovered by a prospecting company hired in 1993 by another Friedland company, Diamond Fields Resources.
The announcement comes just months after Ivanhoe Mines said it has struck a deal for mutual technical support and collaboration with HPX. Ivanhoe also said it had agreed to provide HPX with a US$50 million secured loan, convertible into HPX shares, or at least a 25% interest in an HPX Tier One copper-gold development project in the U.S.
Ivanhoe is developing the Kamoa-Kakula mining complex in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines, China’s Zijin Mining, and the DRC Government, it is expected to be among the world’s biggest copper mines. Peak annual production is expected to exceed 700,000 tonnes.
HPX is a leading developer of a cluster of proprietary geophysics hardware and software that leverage high-pulsed power, data inversion and machine learning expertise to dramatically increase the depth, quality, efficiency and success of metals-focused exploration campaigns.
This technology has been utilized by HPX in the last several years across HPX’s diversified and highly prospective global portfolio of projects.
HPX has agreed to provide Ivanhoe with access to its best-in-class suite of proprietary exploration hardware and software.
In its press release, HPX said Ivanhoe acknowledges that the Nimba Project is a project for collaboration between the two companies. It said Ivanhoe has committed to commence negotiations to provide technical support to the Nimba Project.
“Such support would be provided on an arms-length, cost recovery basis,” HPX said.
HPX is a privately-owned U.S. domiciled mineral exploration and development company. Its management team is led by Chairman and CEO Robert Friedland, and Co-Chairman Egizio Bianchini, former co-head of the BMO Global Metals & Mining Group. Finlayson is a former head of exploration at Rio Tinto Plc [RIO-NYSE].