The standoff between Mamadi Doumbouya and foreign mining companies continues. After ordering them in early April to build bauxite refineries for a fair share of revenues from the country’s exploitation, the head of Guinea’s ruling junta, Mamadi Doumbouya “imposed” a 14-day deadline to the Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto Simfer and Winning Consortium Simandou for the creation of the joint venture responsible for the exploitation of the immense Simandou iron deposit, during a speech on Guinean public television RTG at the end of last week.
A tripartite agreement was signed three months ago for a period of 35 years between the Guinean State and the two mining companies for the exploitation of the site located in the south-east of the country, and which represents one of the largest iron deposits in the world. This agreement provides for the construction of a railway of about 670 km to connect the mining corridor to an ore port on the Guinean coast south of Conakry. They must be completed in December 2024. And the first commercial production should see the light of day no later than March 31, 2025.
Guinea: the State takes 15% of Simandou’s infrastructure
“We note a discrepancy 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,” said Mamadi Doumbouya. “To move forward effectively, I expect the creation of the joint venture within fourteen days,” he told the leaders of the two mining giants, who met on June 17 in Conakry.
Lack of infrastructure
For years, the exploitation of Simandou has been hampered by disputes over mining rights, suspicions of corruption and the scale of the investments to be made in a landlocked region and a country cruelly lacking in infrastructure. The entire project represents several thousand direct jobs. The members of the government were received on June 18 by the head of the junta and delivered a first account of their month-long tour inside the country, reported RTG.
“The observation is painful, it must be said. We had an understanding of what we believed to be Guinea, but the observation is even more violent,” said Prime Minister Mohamed Béavogui. “We saw a Guinea inside where there was, to a large extent, the absence of the state. There was the absence of governance, there was the absence of state clerks… There was a lack of men, a lack of means, a lack of systems,” he continued, also deploring very failing infrastructures, even non-existent.
Simandou: Guinea’s victory, end of a showdown started under Alpha Condé?
The Guinean Prime Minister has promised a report “in the coming days” with “concrete” proposals. Colonel Doumbouya was sworn in as president following a military coup in September 2021. He pledged to return power to elected civilians within three years.