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Rio Tinto and its partners have locked in $US15 billion ($22.94 billion) in funding for the Simandou iron ore project in West Africa.

The Simandou mountain range covers more than 100km in the south-east of the Republic of Guinea.

The Guinea Government confirmed earlier this week that Simandou shareholders have signed financing agreements, which will fund critical infrastructure like rail and ports.

The announcement was made in a statement by Guinea’s presidential office, with head of the strategic committee that led the talks, Djiba Diakite, welcoming the outcome.

“Simandou is no longer a dream but a reality,” Diakite said. “There is no doubt that the project will be delivered on schedule by the end of December 2025.”

Rio Tinto is set to invest billions in the Simandou project, which it said holds the potential to create opportunities and development potential which will benefit the people of Guinea for generations to come.

“Its subsoils contain the world’s largest untapped reserve of high-grade iron ore, estimated at over two billion tonnes,” the company said. “Developing a project of Simandou’s scale is a unique opportunity.”

Simandou’s mining concession is divided into four blocks. Rio holds rights to blocks three and four through Rio Tinto Simfer – a joint venture between Rio Tinto, Chalco Iron Ore Holdings, and the Government of the Republic of Guinea.

Rio Tinto is the majority shareholder and managing partner of Rio Tinto Simfer.