MAC: Mines and Communities

Guinea bauxite: more protests

Published by MAC on 2008-11-05

Less than a month ago a demonstrator against RUSAL - the Russian alumininum giant - was killed by police in Guinea. Now there have been further protests at lack of public services provided by the companies. This time, the target is been bauxite mining company CBG - part-owned by Alcoa and Rio Tinto Alcan.

One dead in Guinea protest, mine trains stop


1st November 2008

CONAKRY - One person has been killed in Guinea during protests over a lack of electricity that have also stopped the trains used by a major mining firm, a police official said on Saturday. "Yesterday (Friday) the demonstrators attacked houses owned by government officials. A stolen chair was thrown from a storey (of a building) and caused the death of a young girl," said the police official, who asked not to be named.

The demonstrations have blocked a railway track used by Guinean bauxite miner Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee (CBG), but production at the world's top exporter has not been affected, part-owners Alcoa said late on Friday.

Local people angry at poor electricity supplies in Boke, where CBG's mine produces around two thirds of Guinea's bauxite, have erected barricades on the railway line CBG uses. "While we're aware of the protesting that's going on, at this point it has not impacted our production there," an Alcoa spokesman said late on Friday.

Guinea is the world's No. 1 source of the aluminium ore, and CBG the biggest exporting firm. CBG said at the start of the year it aimed to produce a record 13.5 million tonnes in 2008, up frm 12.5 million tonnes last year.

"Negotiations are underway but CBG's trains are still not running for security reasons," the police official said.

Protests about poor public services are common in the impoverished west African country, and demonstrations poor electricity supply often target bauxite operations as these tend to generate power for surrounding towns under their deals with the government.

Alcoa and Rio Tinto Alcan control the Halco joint venture that owns 51 percent of CBG, and the Guinean government holds the remainder. In July, the Guinean government said it was replacing Alcoa as manager of CBG with an interim committee.

Earlier this month, one person was killed during a five-day power protest in the town of Mambia that stopped trains carrying bauxite for Russian aluminium firm UC RUSAL.

As well as bauxite, Guinea has large reserves of steel-making raw material iron ore. Rio Tinto is majority owner of the $6 billion Simandou iron ore project, which the firm says is the world's best unexploited resource.

(Reporting by Saliou Samb in Conakry and Daniel Magnowski in Dakar; Editing by Chris Pizzey)

Protesters block key mineral supply track in Guinea


1st November 2008

CONAKRY (AFP) - Hundreds of youths Friday blocked a key rail link used to ferry bauxite in the world's top producer Guinea to protest a mining firm's failure to improve their living conditions, police said.

Protesters gathered in Boke, 300 kilometres (185 miles) northwest of the capital Conakry, on the Sangaredi-Kamsar line used by the country's leading bauxite miner and blocked it with tree trunks and old pieces of furniture.

A demonstrator told AFP that they had taken a train driver hostage to an unknown location.

Demonstrators are calling on the Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee (CBG, Guinea Bauxite Company) to pay for the reconnection of drinking water supplies, repair roads in Boke and improve the local electricity network.

CBG has been mining bauxite in the Boke region since 1973.

While Guinea has a vast mineral wealth with bauxite, iron, gold and uranium deposits, most of its nine million inhabitants live on less than a dollar a day.

The country is at the bottom of the United Nations' human development index.

Cholera is endemic in the bigger cities and only half of the population has access to clean drinking water. Some 70 percent of Guineans are illiterate and life expectancy is only 54 years.

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