The privately-held HPX gained government approval to acquire 95% of Nimba in September from BHP, Newmont and Orano, with parliament approving the amended concession agreement on December 3.
Yesterday, HPX said it had appointed Youla as CEO of its iron ore subsidiary Société des Mines de Fer de Guinée to help fast-track Nimba's development, where it is targeting production of 20 million tonnes per annum of high-grade direct shipping iron ore.
"The depth of his experience as both the former prime minister of Guinea and as the leader of a major global alumina producer will be invaluable as we accelerate the development of this world-class iron ore resource," HPX founder, chairman and CEO Friedland said.
"We have drawn together an incredibly talented team to join the SMFG board and oversee the responsible development of this unique, high-grade iron ore project."
Other appointments to SMFG include former South Africa president Kgalema Motlanthe, London-based finance executive Guy de Selliers, HPX's Eric Finlayson, Guinea mines minister Abdoulaye Magassouba and former US ambassador to Guinea, Patricia Moller.
Other directors include mining executives José Carlos Martins, Philip Mitchell and Phil Montgomery, who previously worked at Vale, Rio Tinto and BHP, respectively.
HPX's focus on Nimba comes as China-backed Société Minière de Boké reportedly beat ASX-listed Fortescue Metals Group's bid in November for blocks one and two of the storied Simandou iron ore project in Guinea.