Guinea asks bauxite miners to submit local refinery plans by May

CONAKRY, April 9 (Reuters)The interim government of Guinea, the world’s second-largest bauxite producer, on Friday asked international mining companies to present plans to refine their bauxite production into alumina in the country by May 2022.

Africa’s largest aluminum ore producer has sought to channel its mineral wealth into economic development, in recent years lobbying companies to commit to building local facilities that will refine bauxite into alumina more great value.

A junta that took power in a military coup in September has toughened its stance on multinationals, ordering the suspension of all activities at a huge iron ore deposit last month to clarify how Guinea’s interests would be preserved.

The companies affected by the alumina ultimatum, including Guinea’s two main bauxite producers, Société Minière de Boké (SMB) and Compagnie des bauxite de Guinée (CBG), had all previously committed to developing local refineries, the caretaker government said.

“Respect for the basic agreements remains a non-negotiable for us,” junta leader Mamady Doumbouya said during a hearing with company representatives broadcast on state television Friday evening.

“You and I can no longer continue this fool’s game that perpetuates great inequality in our relationship,” he added.

Companies have been asked to submit project proposals and a “precise timetable” for the construction of alumina refineries to the mines ministry by the end of May.

“Penalties” will ensue if the deadline is missed, Doumbouya said without providing further details.

SMB is owned by a consortium including Singaporean shipping company Winning International Group, Shandong Weiqiao – a subsidiary of the world’s largest private sector aluminum producer, China Hongqiao 1378.HK – and the Guinean UMS International.

CBG is 51% owned by the Halco Mining Inc consortium and 49% by the Guinean government. Rio Tinto RIO.L and Alcoa Corporation AA.N each own 45% of Halco, while Dadco Investments owns the rest.

The companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters outside of normal business hours.

(Reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by Sofia Christensen; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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