Exxaro Resources expects to start mining iron ore in the Republic of Congo this year, with an eye to producing up to 10 million metric tons (11 million tons) a year, as the miner diversifies beyond its traditional reliance on coal. Exxaro’s chief executive Sipho Nkosi told the Reuters Africa Investment Summit he was optimistic it would soon get a permit to begin production at the Mayoko project. “We will get our mining convention and start mining this year,” he said. South Africa’s second largest coal producer acquired the project as part of its A$313m ($328.10m) takeover of African Iron in an effort to diversify from coal, which has been hit by sharp drops in prices and demand. Exxaro plans to spend $320m in the initial ramp up of the mine, with a view to producing up to 2 million metric tons by next year, Nkosi said. Exxaro aims to eventually mine 10 million metric tons of the steel making ingredient per year, although Nkosi declined to give a date for when that would happen.