Africa

Guinea junta chiefs warns mining giants over inequality

[FILES] Guinea junta leader Mamadi Doumbouya is sworn in as interim president in Conakry, Guinea October 1, 2021. Photo-REUTERS-Souleymane Camara

The head of Guinea’s ruling junta, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, has warned foreign mining companies to build processing factories locally and to share revenues with the country equally.

Doumbouya has given the companies until the end of May to submit proposals and a timetable for the construction of bauxite refineries, according to a video posted on the presidency’s Facebook page.

With an estimated 7.4 billion tons, Guinea has the world’s largest reserves of bauxite, a mineral used in the manufacture of aluminum, essential for the automobile and food industries.

It is also the second-largest producer.

China imports about half of its bauxite needs from Guinea.

However, the benefits of the mining of bauxite or other abundant natural resources such as iron, gold, and diamond, remain notoriously uneven.

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Experts cite insufficient investment in the development of the local economy, a lack of essential infrastructures such as roads, endemic corruption, and loopholes in existing laws.

Despite its natural wealth, Guinea remains one of the world’s poorest countries.

“Despite the mining boom in the bauxite sector, we have to admit that the expected revenues are below expectations, we can no longer continue this fool’s game which perpetuates a great inequality in our relations,” Doumbouya told the industrialists.

There are a number of major players active in the sector.

These include SMB, a consortium formed by Singapore’s Winning Shipping, Chinese aluminium producer Shandong Weiqiao and the Yantai Port group, as well as other consortiums which count Russia’s Rusal and Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto-Alcan among their investors.

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The on-site processing of the ore “is becoming unavoidable, it is imperative and without delay,” he said.

He stressed that previous agreements between the Guinean government and different groups stipulated that refining would take place locally, but those promises had gone unfulfilled.

The failure to respect the conventions was a “cause of nullity” and their application was “non-negotiable” for the government, he said.

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