Normal operations have resumed at bauxite mines in Guinea after several days of unrest that led to slowed production, as sources in country told Reuters that locals initiated violent protests against a move by the president to extend his term in office.
Conakry and several other northern cities were the site of such protests, which were kicked off by a proposal to amend the constitution to allow President Alpha Conde to seek a third term. The president’s opposition called for protests this week as a response to the proposal, while Conde himself has remained tight-lipped in response to questions about a possible third term if the constitution is amended to allow it.
At least nine protesters were killed during the course of this week’s protests.
According to officials from Societe Miniere de Boke (SMB), Winning Shipping, and Guinea Bauxite Company (CBG), production operations at all sites has returned to normal.
“We have been impacted by the protests, with around two-and-a-half slow days of production,” a CBG representative told Reuters, going on to explain that a single day’s halt at a site typically costs about US$1 million.
The CBG official continued by saying that the train from the mining areas to Rusal and Guinea Alumina Corporation on the coast has not been able to make its delivery however.
Neither Rusal nor GAC were immediately available to Reuters for comment.
Meanwhile, Frederic Bouzigues, SMB’s director general, told Reuters that trucking from the area was blocked Monday, but routes were reopened and operating as usual by the end of the day Thursday.
Boké, which is the location of the headquarters of major bauxite firms SMB and CBG and the epicenter for the recent spate of violent unrest, also houses much of the country’s poor and unemployed. Many of the country’s disenfranchised lay the blame at their doorstep, watching those two firms ship around 45 million metric tons of bauxite ore each year to overseas buyers.
Recurring complaints include a lack of local employment at the mines and recurring electrical outages they believe are related to the significant bauxite harvesting operations. Though among the poorest countries on Earth, Guinea hosts around a third of the world’s known bauxite reserves.