MAC: Mines and Communities

Guinea regime says it will audit global miners

Published by MAC on 2009-09-14

Recently, the government of DR Congo announced results of an audit of mining contracts, signed with the former military regime, mostly by foreign companies.

Arguably, it took the return of a fragile democracy (though certainly not of stability) for this process to be fulfilled. 

Now, the junta which seized power in Guinea earlier this year is embarking on a similar exercise.

And the fortunes of four global mining outfits are at stake. See also:

AngloGold, Kenor, Rusal face Guinean government audit

BY Saliou Samb Reuters

10 September 2009

CONAKRY - Guinea, the world's biggest bauxite exporter and a source of gold and iron ore, will audit at least three of the foreign mining firms working there, its government said late on Wednesday.

The government has set up an audit committee to look into the Guinean operations of Russian metals firm UC RUSAL, world No. 3 gold miner AngloGold Ashanti, and Norwegian firm Kenor, Ousmane Kaba, vice president of the committee, said on state television.

"We will do this to find out what has really happened," Kaba said, speaking in the presence of Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, whose junta took power in the West African state last December.

"The list is not exhaustive. We can increase it if necessary," he added.

AngloGold Ashanti said it believed Wednesday's broadcast referred to an announcement made by Camara soon after he came to power that he would establish an audit committee.

"This is something we have been working with and talking to the government about since then," said company spokesman Alan Fine. "As far as we can tell this is nothing new.

"We see it as that the government wants to reassure itself as a new government that accounting practices and so on were being carried out accordingly," Fine said, adding that there had been no impact on AngloGold Ashanti's operations, nor was one expected.

Camara's administration began by taking an aggressive stance against mining firms, and though this appeared to have softened later in the year, recent events indicate he may be changing tack again.

Late on Thursday, lawyers for the Guinean government said a court of first instance had canceled the 2006 sale of Friguia to RUSAL.

"Friguia was sold for $22 million, but when taking into account the price of alumina at the moment of transfer, its value is estimated at between $250 million and $1 billion, depending on the method of calculation used," Habib Hann, another member of the audit committee, said in Wednesday's broadcast.

Among other foreign resources firms working in Guinea are Rio Tinto, which disputes the previous government's decision to give a section of its Simandou iron ore concession, potentially one of the world's biggest such mines, to BSGR, a firm which has no history of producing iron ore.

(Writing by Daniel Magnowski in Dakar; Additional reporting by Dan Magnowski and Agnieszka Flak in Johannesburg; Editing by William Hardy and Christian Wiessner)

Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

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