Guinea bauxite mining back to normal after week of riots

CONAKRY, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Bauxite mining companies have resumed normal operations in Guinea’s Boke region as local authorities try to negotiate a definitive end to unrest that has disrupted production for more than a week, sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.

Riots have gripped Boke and surrounding towns several times this year as angry youths have pillaged police posts and blocked trains and railroads to protest against electricity cuts and a lack of jobs and services.

Mining companies have had to stop and start operations repeatedly over the past week.

Despite decades of mineral extraction, Guinea, Africa’s top bauxite producer, remains one of the world’s least developed countries, a major gripe of young Guineans who want to see tangible benefits from mining revenues.

“All mining operations are continuing normally since the end of last week,” said an official at the state agency for the development of mining infrastructure, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“This afternoon there will be a meeting between the protest leaders and local authorities to find a definitive solution to these problems,” he added.

The area is home to two major companies that each produce about 15 million tonnes of the aluminium ore bauxite annually, together making up nearly all of Guinea’s production.

The Compagnie des Bauxite de Guinee (CBG) is back to normal production capacity after having tentatively resumed operations on Friday when riots died down, said a CBG official, who asked to remain unnamed.

A representative for the Societe Miniere de Boke (SMB) did not respond to requests for comment on Monday but said last week that SMB had begun resuming operations.

CBG is 49 percent owned by the Guinean state and the remainder by Alcoa, Rio Tinto Alcan and Dadco. SMB is owned by Guinea, China’s Winning Shipping Ltd, Shandong Weiqiao and UMS International Ltd. (Reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Tim Cocks and Mark Potter)