In an effort at encouraging mining firms to refine bauxite ore harvested in country domestically, the Guinean government announced late last week that it plans to quadruple energy output over the coming half-dozen years.
Speaking on the periphery of a mining conference on Friday, Guinea’s energy minister Cheick Taliby Sylla said that the key to unlocking broader economic development for his country was bauxite mining.
“Mines are, quite simply, development. And the mines can’t develop without energy,” he opined.
At present, Guinea’s total power production equals 658 megawatts, which is not sufficient even to meet consumers’ needs. Large swaths of the country still lack electrification, while the capitol city of Conakry has electric power only intermittently. As a result, the idea of fostering a thriving aluminium industry, which is an electricity-thirsty endeavor, has been out of reach to date.
However, per Sylla, a host of new projects are in the works that will radically increase the country’s total electrical output.
“By 2025, we will have around 2,600 megawatts in terms of total production. We can dedicate a quantity to (the mining companies) […] We will guarantee that supply of energy.”
The first such project to come online is the 450-megawatt Souapiti hydro-electric dam, which is scheduled to begin producing electricity next year. The project, like many others in the country, is being funded by interests from the People’s Republic of China, specifically using US$1.3 billion in financing from China Exim Bank.
According to Guinean Mines Minister Abdoulaye Magassouba, the newly-available electricity is expected to compel companies to adhere to refining schedules laid down in mining firms’ agreements with the state.
“There are contractual obligations that were entered into freely by mining companies,” explained Magassouba. “We plan to respect to our commitments. And we expect our partners to respect their commitments.”
In addition to electrical projects, a partnership among Winning International Group of Singapore, China Hongqiao Group, and UMS International of Guinea is planning to break ground on an alumina refinery in the country later this year. Operating under the joint venture Societe Miniere de Boke, the US$3 billion refinery will feature a nameplate capacity of 1 million metric tons per annum.