Mining industry of Guinea
The mining industry of Guinea was developed during colonial rule. The minerals extracted consisted of iron, gold, diamond, and bauxite. Guinea ranks first in the world in bauxite reserves and 6th in the extraction of high-grade bauxite, the aluminium ore. The mining industry and exports of mining products accounted for 17% of Guinea’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010. Mining accounts for over 50% of its exports. The country accounts for 94% of Africa’s mining production of bauxite. The large mineral reserve, which has mostly remained untapped, is of immense interest for international firms.
In recent years, the mining industry in Guinea has suffered from controversy, specifically with respect to the iron ore mining industry and the block of mines in Northern Guinea.
The mining tradition of Guinea is ancient and can be traced to a period before the Middle Ages, when gold and salt were trading commodities between Guinea and Ghana. Following the independence of Guinea from colonial rule, the economy of the country was largely dependent on the mining industry, in spite of political turmoil racking the country since 2011. The 1986 Mining Code was revised in 1995.
In September 2011 the Mining Code was reviewed once more and a new code implemented that took effect in 2012. Changes to the code included increases in state ownership in joint ventures from 15% to 35%.
Production and impact
Guinea's bauxite reserve is 7.4 billion metric tons, which is 26.4 percent of global reserves. High-grade iron ore reserves account for more than 4 billion tonnes. Diamond and gold deposits, as well as uranium, have also been reported. The mineral industry has provided job opportunities to 10,000 people. In the export sector, mining has contributed to as much as 90% of earnings from foreign exchange. Guinea now ranks sixth globally in the production of bauxite. Despite holding large mineral resources, Guinea, with 9,000,000 people, has a low income level, with the average wage less than one dollar a day.
There are two dozen international companies associated with mining operations in Guinea. The domestic agencies involved with mining are the Association pour la recherche et l'Exploitation du Diamant et de l'Or, Friguia Sal, Siguri Gold, and Société AMIG Mining International SARL.
Minerals extracted in the country by private-public joint enterprises in collaboration with the Government of Guinea include bauxite, iron ore, and diamonds. Other resources mined are cement, gold, salt, graphite, limestone, manganese, nickel, and uranium. A major developer in the field of bauxite mining is the Alumina Company of Guinea (ACG-Fria), which is located in Fria; the government of Guinea holds a 49% share while the Reynolds Metals Company holds the 51% balance in this enterprise. Another partner in bauxite mining is Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée (CBG). It is a joint venture of Alcoa, Rio Tinto, and Dado Mining holding a 51% share, and the Guinean government holding a 49% share. Its exports of bauxite are the largest in the world, reportedly in excess of 13.5 million tonnes in 2008.
Guinea has large reserves of iron ore with high potential for extraction. These largely remains untapped, and its quality grade is more than 60%. Rio Tinto's joint sector enterprise in the iron ore sector is the Simandou mine project, with a value estimated at $6 billion. In 2012, Simandou mine was projected to produce 90 million tons of iron ore annually. The Mount Nimba mine, also in the iron ore sector, is located in the Nzérékoré Region, while the Kalia mine is in the Faranah Region.
A large number of gold mines are located in northeastern Guinea; the estimated production in 2011 was 15,695 kilograms. One of the country's largest gold mines is the Lefa mine in the Faranah Region. The Kalia Mine is owned by Bellzone Mining.
Controversies and corruption in the mining industry
In 2008, the government revoked the Rio Tinto licence for the Simandou mine, awarding it instead to BSGR, a company associated with Beny Steinmetz. After the election of President Alpha Condé in 2010, investigations were launched into several allegations of corruption within the mining industry and the government of Guinea expropriated BSGR's rights to mine at Simandou. But in November 2016, Rio Tinto came under fire for alleged corruption, involving a $10.5 million bribe paid to an aide and close advisor of President Condé to influence him to give the Simandou licence back to Rio Tinto. Rio Tinto admitted making the payment and fired two senior executives.
There have been further corruption allegations levelled at President Condé’s government involving bribery from the U.S. hedge fund Och-Ziff. In August 2016, Samuel Mebiame, who worked for the company, was arrested and charged in the U.S. with bribing Guinean and other African officials on behalf of Och Ziff to receive mining rights and access to secret information. According to the U.S. prosecutors, Mebiame was also part of a conspiracy to form a Guinean state-owned mining company and was involved in rewriting Guinea’s mining code. Mebiame pleaded guilty to conspiring to make corrupt payments to African members of government in December 2016.
In 2017, Och-Ziff Capital Management Group came under investigation for several instances of bribery in the Guinean mining industry as well as widespread bribery across Africa. In September, a unit of Och-Ziff pled guilty to engaging in a multi-year bribery scheme; the judgement handed down included regulatory sanctions against Och-Ziff founder Daniel Och. In 2018, Michael Cohen, head of Och-Ziff European operations, was charged with ten counts of fraud. This followed a lengthy investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
In September 2015, an investigation was launched into Mohamed Alpha Condé, the President's son. The French Financial Public Prosecutor charged him with embezzling public funds and receiving benefits from French firms that are involved in the Guinean mining industry.
Another case of alleged corruption in the country’s mining industry is based on the findings of an NGO called Global Witness. According to their report Sable Mining, an AIM-listed company, got close to President Condé prior to the elections and bribed his son in order to receive iron ore mining rights to the Mount Nimba mine. These allegations have been under investigation by Guinean authorities since March 2016.
- Soumah 2009, p. 11.
- KPMG Global Mining Institute 2014, p. 18.
- Reuters (1 November 2005). "One dead in Guinea protest, mine trains stop". Mines and Communities. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
- KPMG Global Mining Institute 2014, p. 2-3.
- "Guinea". Natural Resource Governance Institute. 2015-04-23. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
- "Mining in Guinea-Overview". mbendi.com. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
- KPMG Global Mining Institute 2014, p. 17.
- "Crying foul in Guinea". The Economist. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
- "Republic of Guinea 2011 Mining Code | Natural Resource Governance Institute". archive.resourcegovernance.org. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
- "New mining code in Guinea heralds changes in mining sector". www.nortonrosefulbright.com. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
- Agence France-Presse (1 November 2008). "Protesters block key mineral supply track in Guinea". Mines and Communities. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
- Stellar Pacific. "Stellar Pacific finds gold in Guinea". Cision Canada.
- KPMG Global Mining Institute 2014, p. 23.
- KPMG Global Mining Institute 2014, p. 12.
- "Update 1-Glitch halts Guinea's CBG bauxite exports-sources". Reuters. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
- KPMG Global Mining Institute 2014, p. 2.
- KPMG Global Mining Institute 2014, p. 3.
- "Tata suspends work on Mt Nimba". minesandcommunities.org. 2010.
- "Kalia Iron Ore Project, Guinea". mining-technology.com. 2012.
- KPMG Global Mining Institute 2014, p. 19.
- "Lefa Gold Project". nordgold.com. 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-09-17.
- "Bellzone mining plc - Kalia". www.bellzone.com. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
- "Subscribe to read". www.ft.com. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
- "Rio Tinto Offered Bribe for Mine, Ex-Guinea Minister Says". Bloomberg.com. 2016-11-18. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
- Samb, Sonali Paul and Saliou. "Rio Tinto suspends senior executive after Guinea investigation". Reuters UK. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
- "Subscribe to read". www.ft.com. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
- "U.S. Case Into Fixer for Och-Ziff Venture Gets Support in Guinea". Bloomberg.com. 2016-08-18. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
- "Gabonese National Pleads Guilty to Foreign Bribery Scheme". www.justice.gov. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
- "Och-Ziff Fixer's Business Had Corruption at 'Core,' U.S. Says". Bloomberg.com. 2017-05-02. Retrieved 2018-02-07.
- "Michael Cohen, Once of Och-Ziff, Charged With Fraud by U.S." Bloomberg.com. 2018-01-03. Retrieved 2018-02-07.
- "Subscribe to read". Financial Times. Retrieved 2018-02-07.
- "U.S. SEC charges two former Och-Ziff executives in bribery case". Reuters. 2017-01-26. Retrieved 2018-02-07.
- "Mohamed Condé, fils et conseiller du président Alpha Condé mis sous enquête en France selon un journal français | Guinéenews". guineenews.org (in French). Retrieved 2017-03-09.
- "Enquête sur le fils du président guinéen". leparisien.fr. 2017-03-09. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
- "Guinea to Probe Sable Mining After Global Witness Report". Bloomberg.com. 2016-05-16. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
- "THE DECEIVERS: Edmonds and Groves: the former England cricketer, his business partner and their stock market empire built with bribery and scams". Global Witness.
- "Guinea: Sable Mining Bribery Under Probe". The NEWS (Monrovia). 2016-05-23. Retrieved 2017-03-09.