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Guinea: junta mounts pressure on two mining giants

The head of Guinea’s ruling junta, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, has “imposed” a 14-day deadline for the creation of a joint venture to exploit a huge iron ore deposit, Guinean state television RTG reported.

A tripartite agreement was signed three months ago for a period of 35 years between the Guinean state, Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto Simfer and Winning Consortium Simandou, with a view to exploiting the Simandou site (south-east), one of the world’s largest iron deposits.

The agreement provides for the construction of a railway of about 670 km to link the mining corridor to a mineral port on the Guinean coast south of Conakry. They are due to be completed in December 2024. The first commercial production is expected by 31 March 2025.

“We note a gap between your vision of the implementation of the terms of the framework agreement and our expectations. This situation is not only regrettable but also unacceptable for the Guinean state,” the junta leader deplored at the weekend.

“To move forward effectively I expect the creation of the joint venture within fourteen days,” he told the leaders of the two mining giants meeting Friday in Conakry.

The operation has been hampered for years by disputes over mining rights, suspicions of corruption and the scale of investment required in a landlocked region and a country cruelly lacking in infrastructure.

The whole project represents several thousand direct jobs.

The members of the government were also received on Saturday by the head of the junta and gave the first report on their month-long tour of the country’s interior, RTG reported.

“The report is painful, it must be said. We had an understanding of what we thought Guinea was, but the report is even more violent,” said Prime Minister Mohamed B?avogui.

“We saw a Guinea inside where there was, in large part, the absence of the state. There was an absence of governance; there was an absence of state clerks… The men are missing, the means are missing, the systems are missing”, he continued, also deploring the very poor or even non-existent infrastructures.

The Guinean Prime Minister promised a report “in the coming days” with “concrete” proposals.

Colonel Doumbouya was installed as president in a military coup in September 2021. He has pledged to hand over power to elected civilians within three years.


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