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Ghana’s Iron Ore Potential and the new find in the Oti Region: “We need to manage expectations” – Henry Antwi

Board Chair of the Ghana Integrated Iron and Steel Development Corporation (GIISDEC) and MP for Yendi, Hon. Alhaji Farouk Aliu Mahama recently assured the people of Dagbon that before the end of 2022 there will be an investor to kick start Iron Ore mining at Shieni.

In addition to that, the media in Ghana is reporting that the Ghana Geological Survey Authority has discovered large quantities of Iron ore deposits in Akokrowa, a farming community in the Oti Region of Ghana. The iron ore, according to the geological investigation, is 55.22 weight percent (Fe) and of a higher grade.

Subsequently, the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources Hon. Samuel Abdulai Jinapor at a meeting with the Chiefs and people of Akokrowa on Tuesday 14th December, 2021 said government will ensure that the commodity found in the area benefits the people. He maintained that the exploration and the business of the Iron will create jobs and wealth for the people of Oti and the country in general.

Ghana is indeed blessed with more than 35 known economic, industrial and development minerals. Top 6 of these are gold, diamond, bauxite, manganese, the hydrocarbons and iron ore. The country has huge iron ore deposits as follows: Banded Iron Formation at Shieni, Lateritic Iron Ore Deposit at Opon Mansi, titaniferous-magnetiferous iron ore deposit at Pudo, another BIF at Akpafu, and Adum Banso iron ore potential which is yet to be evaluated. Nonetheless, Ghana’s current total iron ore potential has been projected by Geogamut to be worth $1.2 trillion. It is gratifying to know that it is the Akpafu Iron ore project extension that is yielding this discovery at Akokrowa by the Ghana Geological Survey Authority.

Speaking to AMN News on the good news for Akokrowa, Mr. Henry Antwi, an Australian based Mining and Mineral Economics Consultant and Fellow of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (FAusIMM), cautioned that the good news must be managed with measured optimism.

“We should be careful not to raise the expectations of host communities too high with such preliminary finds and sketchy information” he said. He continued by saying “First of all, the 56% is a low iron ore content by the standards of iron ore seaborne trade, but of significance is the high contaminant levels in Ghana’s iron ore (i.e the silica, the phosphorus, the alumina, etc)”. He queried if bulk samples have been done to determine the penalty elements. “What are the mining and processing parameters to determine if it is even economically viable (stripping ratio, recoveries, etc)?” – he asked.

“We have to be certain that the discovery is economically viable before making promises to the mineral host communities, so in the event it is not economically viable, and exploitation delays, the communities will not conclude that it was only a political announcement to win their votes” he added.
Recalling from other provinces, he added, “We helped Vale in Brazil on a solution to their low-grade iron-ore fines by building a Pelletizing Plant in Oman (abundant and low-cost energy). The high premium pellets are now exported to international markets and a win-win for Oman and Brazil”

In his final remarks, Mr. Henry Antwi said, “Ghana’s potential is promising, but the possible route to assess after proper exploration and feasibility study is steel making, which will need appropriate quantum of energy supply at competitive price and infrastructure, coupled with the high Capex associated with steel making”.

The Ghana Geological Survey Authority is scheduled to continue the resource evaluation of the Iron Ore Deposit at Akokrowa when they acquire a drill rig for the assignment in 2022.

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AMN
“We have to be certain that the discovery is economically viable before making promises to the mineral host communities, so in the event it is not economically viable, and exploitation delays, the communities will not conclude that it was only a political announcement to win their votes” - Henry Antwi
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