(Bloomberg) -- China Baowu Steel Group has completed its purchase of a stake in the Simandou project in Guinea, as China’s top steelmaker looks to expand its interest in the world’s largest untapped iron ore mine.

Baowu bought an undisclosed stake from Winning Consortium Simandou, which owns the two northern blocks of the project, the Chinese steel mill said in a statement on Thursday. The consortium that sold the stake comprises Singapore’s Winning International Group and aluminum maker China Hongqiao Group. 

Baowu first flagged its intention to invest in the northern blocks in 2022.

Simandou has some of the world’s richest deposits of iron ore, used to make steel in blast furnaces, but its development has been stymied for years by disputes over ownership and the mine’s infrastructure, as well as by political changes in the West African country. 

Simandou’s other two southern blocks are held by Australian iron ore giant Rio Tinto Plc, in partnership with Aluminum Corp. of China and other Chinese companies including a Baowu unit.

First production from the mine is expected in 2026, and the goal is to also build a steel factory and pellet plant in the 2030s.

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