In 1996 the Guinean the minister of Mines, Geology and the Environment met with Rio Tinto in London. They noted that the Simandou area of south eastern part of the country had potential iron ore resources that were not being actively explored and encouraged Rio Tinto to send an exploration team to Guinea.
In 1996, we made two reconnaissance visits. Then we applied for Exploration Licences, which were granted in 1997 - covering the 110 kilometre Simandou mountain range.
Since 1997 Rio Tinto has prospected along the totality of our concession that stretches along the 110 kilometre range, supported by field geologists, helicopter transportable drill rigs, and by dedicated exploration roads that allow our drill rigs to access remote areas of the site. Today Rio Tinto is drilling 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
Extensive exploration work lead to discovery
In 2002, drilling intersected long runs of high grade haematite mineralisation. Ever since, we have significantly increased our exploration capacities and investment year over year. From 2007 to 2008 we doubled our drilling capacity and have already drilled more than 218,000 meteres of core samples.
Early explorers strike iron ore
In the late 1800s/early 1900s, explorers identified potentially economic concentrations of ore in south eastern Guinea, in the region surrounding Mt. Simandou. The deposits were not explored in any detail until the 1960s. There are also reports of small exploration missions in the area from the 1950s, during the French colonial period and by a Chinese mission in the 1970s. However no previous or present exploration efforts in the region are of the magnitude of Rio Tinto's work at Simandou.