Gunfire was still escalating around the presidential palace in Guinea when panic began to be felt about the future of the country's natural wealth.

A report in the Washington Post said that Guinea - located in West Africa - has the world's largest reserves of bauxite, which is a major source of aluminum used in making chips, soda cans and cars.

The red rock became a symbol of hope and despair during the era of President Alpha Condé, who turned Guinea into a major exporter before he was overthrown by an army coup" last Sunday.

The report added that some Guineans lamented what they considered a decline in democracy after the coup, while others celebrated the fall of a leader whose critics say he enabled foreign mining companies to destroy agricultural land and drinking water, according to the newspaper.

The report added that the coup in Guinea shook the world of the aluminum industry


at a time when a British consulting company indicated that the prices of Guinean bauxite shipments to China - its largest customer - reached the highest level in 18 months.

The report indicated that the Russian company "Rusal" - one of the largest aluminum producers in the world - threatened to evacuate its workers from Guinea, which caused aluminum prices to rise to their highest level in 10 years.

The newspaper quoted researchers as saying that consumers around the world could experience a financial shock if the flow of bauxite was cut off.

"The uncertainty in Guinea could put cost pressures on the value of any primary aluminum-containing materials, meaning the consumer will pay more," said Alan Clark, an Australian analyst on bauxite.

Guinea is rich in bauxite

When Conde took office in 2010, Guinea's bauxite production represented a small part of global production of the material, the paper says.

But after 11 years, Guinea's share has risen to 22% thanks to a massive deal that Conde struck with China.

In 2017, Beijing agreed - according to the newspaper - to lend Conakry $20 billion to build much-needed infrastructure over the next two decades in exchange for bauxite concessions.

More than 20 international companies are now mining in the country, including companies from the United States, France and Australia, according to the newspaper.

Mining accounts for 35% of the country's economy.

According to the newspaper's report - published a week ago - the most beautiful roads in Guinea are near the mines, while potholes litter the paved roads in other parts of the country, at a time when researchers say that other basic infrastructure - such as schools, hospitals and the electricity network - is in dire need of repair. .

The newspaper quoted a recent Human Rights Watch report that mining threatens thousands of acres of farmland, as well as water supplies, in an area where most families live on farming.

China agreed in 2017 to lend Guinea $20 billion to build much-needed infrastructure (Getty Images)


Bauxite mining continued in Guinea for decades, during which the country witnessed 3 military coups.

Residents of the country constantly express their opposition to bauxite mining projects.

A week before the coup, women in a mining town shut down a railway used to transport bauxite in protest against the project, according to a Washington Post report.

"People see bauxite passing (from their land), but they don't feel the benefits (of it)," Aboubacar Seddiqi Mara, the general secretary of the General Confederation of Guinean Workers, which represents thousands of miners, was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

Mara said workers make an average of $5 a day extracting metal from rocks, often working in hazardous environments.

Firms are not subject to significant oversight, and sometimes there is no oversight altogether, allowing for violations of workers' rights.

"The evil that exists in our country lies in the weakness of our institutions," Mara added.


Tomorrow, Thursday, the military, who overthrew President Alpha Conde on September 5, will meet with the heads of mining companies operating in Guinea, and then employers' associations.

They will also meet - tomorrow, Friday, the heads of banks and unions, as part of a series of preliminary meetings to form the government, starting with meetings with political forces and civil society, according to a report by Agence France-Presse last Sunday.

The report indicated that Guinea is one of the richest countries in bauxite ore, which is used in the production of aluminum, and has mines to extract iron, gold and diamonds, but it is one of the poorest countries in the world.

The report pointed out that the coup led to an increase in the price of aluminum in the market to its highest levels in years, at a time when the military council sought to reassure Guinea's partners that activities would not stop and that pledges would be respected.

The Economic Community of West African States demands an "immediate return to constitutional order" and has suspended Guinea's membership in its bodies.

The conflict between China, France and Israel

An analytical report by Anadolu Agency says that Guinea does not have the second largest reserves of bauxite in the world, from which aluminum is extracted. Rather, it has one of the largest iron mines in the world, with reserves of 2.4 billion tons. Africa is only surpassed by the Ghar Jbeilat mine in Algeria (3.5 billion tons).

This huge mining potential in a country that does not exceed an area of ​​246 thousand square kilometers, prompted some to call it a "geological miracle", and this explains - according to the report - the competition between several parties - led by France, Israel and China - over the rights to exploit the Simandu iron ore mine, which is located In the southeast of Guinea, on the border with Sierra Leone.

The Israeli billionaire who holds French citizenship, Benny Steinmetz;

It removed the Anglo-Australian group from competition, and acquired the rights to exploit the Simandu mine between 2005 and 2010.

But the election of Alpha Conde as president for the first time in 2010 prompted him to freeze the exploitation licenses granted to the Franco-Israeli billionaire, due to suspicion of corruption.

In 2019, the Conde regime agreed with the billionaire "Benny" to abandon the project in exchange for dropping corruption charges against him, but the Swiss prosecutor continued to pursue it judicially.

In this vacuum - confirms the analytical report - a group of Chinese companies took advantage of the opportunity, stormed the Guinean market with its weight, and obtained licenses to exploit some parts of the Simandou mine, whose initial cost is estimated at 9 billion euros, which also includes the construction of a railway to transport iron ore from the mine to a port that will be Also accomplished.

The report says that China has strengthened its influence in Guinea with the support of Conde, who opened the doors of his country to Chinese investments, which angered France, which still dominates the country politically and militarily, but is losing economically to Beijing.

The Simandu mine is of strategic importance to several world powers, and an economic battle led by the United States and its European allies to prevent China from expanding in Africa.

China imports one billion tons of iron ore, two thirds of which are from Australia. The exploitation of Guinea iron will lead to Beijing getting rid of its dependence on Australia's iron, and reduce its international prices, which reduces the cost of Chinese products and strengthens its competitiveness in international markets, according to the report of the Anadolu Agency.

The report adds that France - and behind it the United States - is trying to deprive China of this award, so the coup that overthrew Conde - a loyal friend of Beijing - is in the interest of Paris and Washington.

Just as Conde's rise to power led to the overthrow of French-Israeli investments in Simandou, a coup against him might also topple Chinese investments in the country's iron mines, and this is what Paris hopes.