The mining process

The mining process is not technically complicated: ore would be extracted from the surface of the pit.

As currently planned, after primary crushing, ore would be loaded onto a largely suspended conveyor belt to transport it to a facility in the surrounding lowlands, generating electricity as the ore descends. The ore would proceed through secondary crushers and screens, and then be stockpiled. From there, it would be loaded onto trains and sent to port. The project seeks to mine approximately 450 million tonnes of ore across 15-25 years, depending on the rate of production. The ore needs no treatment other than simple dry-crushing and screening. Processing of the ore requires no wet-processing or treatment with chemicals. There would be no tailings dam and very little waste-rock.

Transport of Ore

Transport of Ore

Ore would be exported via the existing railway in Liberia, which is operational to within 25 km of the Guinean border.

This railway used to continue to 2 km of the Guinean border, but was abandoned in the 1990s. This former section of railway would be rehabilitated and extended 2 km to join a new railway connecting to the train-loading facility.

The mine’s Infrastructure

A single access road from the lowlands to the mine area would permit access for people and materials up and down the mountain. The alignment of the access road is being carefully designed to minimise disturbance. The existing exploration-phase accommodation site would be used to house non-local personnel. Proposed further infrastructure includes mine maintenance facilities, warehouses, offices, laboratories, water supply and treatment systems, and water management infrastructure on the mountain. Crushing, screening and stockpiling facilities for ore, a waste-rock stockpile, solid-waste management facilities, and temporary construction camps would be located in the lowlands.

Design and operations of the Project must consider three main natural challenges

Design and operations of the Project must consider three main natural challenges


The Nimba Mountains emerge abruptly from lowlands, with extreme slopes, rising over 1,200m.


The weather fluctuates across the year between intense rainfall and storms, and heat and drought.

Biological Diversity

The Nimba Mountains harbour an extraordinary diversity of species and ecosystems.

The Nimba Mountains are characterised by intense rain and fog in the wet season, a hot dusty dry season, and windy storms during the transitions between wet and dry seasons.

These conditions and the mountains’ extreme topography and age have led to the evolution of an extraordinary diversity of fauna, flora and ecosystems. These conditions present major challenges for SMFG as it designs and engineers the Project to this unique context. SMFG has adopted the unusual approach, for a mining project, where design starts by considering the constraints first, and then designs the project within them.

The Mine’s Footprint

While SMFG was granted rights to use the full Mining Concession (6.25 km²) and an access corridor to reach the Concession (an area of 8.92 km² called the Mining Perimeter), the Project is minimising land requirements and plans for much infrastructure as possible to be sited in the lowlands, rather than on the mountains.

The direct footprint of the planned project will cover only 20-25% of the 15.17 km² reserved for the Mining Project, which in turn is only a small fraction of the overall mountain range.

Further information on the Nimba Iron Ore Project

Further information on the Nimba Iron Ore Project

SMFG has had a significant presence at the Nimba Mountains since 2005. Choose one of the following topics for further information on the Nimba Iron Ore Project.