Australia's Fortescue inches closer to iron ore exploration in Gabon

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The logo of Australia's Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) can be seen on a bulk carrier as it is loaded with iron ore at the coastal town of Port Hedland in Western Australia, November 29, 2018. REUTERS/Melanie Burton/File Photo

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Aug 19 (Reuters) - Australia's Fortescue Metals Group (FMG.AX) said on Friday a majority-owned joint venture signed an agreement with Gabon that will pave the way to study and obtain a licence to explore the Belinga iron ore project in the West African nation.

The licence will be sought by Ivindo Iron SA, a joint venture in which Fortescue holds 80% interest. Africa Transformation and Industrialization Fund owns the rest.

The agreement outlines key terms for the exploration of potentially one of the world's largest undeveloped, high-grade hematite deposits, the Perth-based miner said, adding it expects about $90 million in costs over three years on the exploration program.

"Ivindo Iron plans to immediately commence exploration and studies upon grant of the exploration licences, with the initial focus on exploration works to determine the potential size and grade of the Belinga iron ore deposit," Fortescue said.

The world's fourth largest iron ore miner in December last year signed an agreement with the Gabon government to study the development of the iron ore project. (https://reut.rs/3Te6L1d )

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Reporting by Navya Mittal in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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