Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Integrated Iron and Steel Development Corporation (GIISDEC), Kwabena Bonsu Fordwor, says the earliest time the country can start mining iron ore will be in three years; that is, 2025.
Ghana has iron ore deposits at Shieni in the Northern Region, Opon Mansi in the Western Region, and Oti and Pudo in the Upper West Region.
In an interview with B&FT, the GIISDEC CEO said more than three billion metric tonnes of iron ore have been located in the country, but the data we have are historical.
“Once we are able to conduct the mineral resource estimations – which will determine grade, tonnage and value – then we’ll have the necessary data to engage investors so that we do a good deal for Ghana,” he said.
“But as I speak with you, it is going to take about 18 months to carry out the mineral resource estimation. So that is about two years. Once that is done, we will need more time to do some further exploration and the mining can start. So, conservatively, I think the earliest time we can start mining will be in about three to four years,” he revealed.
Currently, a group of investors has indicated willingness to invest US$1billion in the country’s iron and steel business. Over the course of the next three years the project will be implemented in three phases, covering both the downstream and upstream components of an integrated iron and steel value chain.
800,000 tonnes of iron will be produced yearly during the first phase, which is anticipated to start this year and last for 18 months. Within a year of operations starting, the production will increase to 1.5 million tonnes in the second phase. The country’s estimated 6.4 billion tonnes of iron ore reserves will be mined in the third phase.
“It has been very encouraging. As we speak, we have about 10 iron ore blocks in the Oti Region which have been given out to both local and foreign investors. They are prepared to use their own money at their own risk to do the mineral resource estimation. And what they will get in return is the first right of refusal on any find,” Mr. Fordwor said.
The consortium is made up of UIC Energy Ghana Limited, the local partner; CISDI Engineering Limited, a Chinese global engineering service provider; and Intercon CTS GmhH and Company KG, a Germany-based international consulting group.
At the moment, the consortium is finalising feasibility studies on the project – after which an agreement will be signed with government for the commencement of work.
The CEO of GIISDEC mentioned that partnership with the private investors is in line with the mandate given GIISDEC to rally the private sector for the iron and steel industry’s development.
It is expected that GIISDEC will hold 30 percent equity for government in all investments into the iron and steel value chain.