Guinea, China Approach Billion Dollar Mining Deal
By Charlotte Young
The new leaders of Guinea are making multi-billion dollar moves that will hopefully help in the country’s reform after decades of unrest. The mineral rich nation is ready to sign a $5.8 billion million deal with the state-owned China Power Investment, according to Reuters.
The deal will give the China Power Investment digging rights outside of the capital, Conakry. In exchange the investment company will finance a coal power plant, a deep water port and a refinery. Currently Guinea has only one refinery to produce its large reserve of bauxite, the principle ore in aluminum.
Guinea’s rulers have long attempted to bring infrastructure to the country of about 10 million people. Although the country produces half of the world’s bauxite and is rich in other minerals such as iron and gold, its people are among West Africa’s poorest nations.
Upon its independence from France in 1958, Guinea was crippled by severe instability as it underwent a series of corrupt and violent dictatorships. Alpha Conde became the country’s first democratically elected president last year after an intense run-off with political rival Cellou Diallo. However an assassination attempt last July revealed the country’s continued unrest.
As Guinea finds its footing in the international business world, it looks first to improving its infrastructure, and China has provided an answer to the problems. China’s increased interest in Africa has led to several deals in Guinea alone.
In February, China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi made promises to increase its investment in Guinea’s infrastructure, telecommunications and agriculture. Already China has made deals to build a $526 million hydroelectric dam in Guinea, as well as construct ports, roads and housing in exchange for bauxite. These plans are predicted to greatly benefit the West African country, as it uses and refines very little of its bauxite resource.
China is not the only country staking out the wealth of resources hidden in West Africa. Indian miner Vedanta is in Liberia and has bought an iron ore company in the country last month, in attempts to solidy its control on the Chinese iron market.