Social unrest has crippled bauxite production in the Republic of Guinea, jeopardizing the flow of the ore out of the African country that sits atop about one-third of the world’s known reserves.
Residents burned tires and set up barricades in Boke to protest power cuts and pollution they say has been the result of mining activities in the area. According to a source from within the city’s police, anti-riot police have been deployed to quell the riots.
“It’s a problem with electricity that aggravated the situation. We are working on finding a solution to the problem,” said the secretary general of Guinea’s Mines Ministry Saadou Nimaga.
Boke, which is the location of the headquarters of major bauxite firms Societe Miniere de Boke (SMB) and Companie Bauxite de Guinee (CBG), also houses much of the country’s poor and unemployed. Many of the country’s disenfranchised lay the blame at their doorstep, watching those firms ship around fifteen million metric tons a year of the country’s mineral riches overseas.
“It’s nearly the whole city that has risen up against the pollution and power cuts,” explained a mining company official speaking on condition of anonymity.
According to another anonymous mining official, the unrest has had a negative impact on production at CBG, which is a joint venture among the Guinean government, Alcoa, Rio Tinto Alcan, and Dadco.
Though officials at SMB did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters, a spokesman from the Chinese government said that there was no connection between the riots and activities at the plant. SMB is a joint venture among China’s Winning Shipping Ltd and Shandong Weiqiao as well as UMS International Ltd and the Guinean government.