Deadly riots block mining operations in Guinea bauxite town

CONAKRY (Reuters) - Unrest over wages and electricity cuts kept the Guinean bauxite mining hub of Boke partially blocked on Friday after a night of gunfire in which witnesses said youths set up roadblocks and burnt tyres.

A 17-year-old boy was shot and killed on Thursday, his grandfather said. The West African state’s Security forces shot dead another man when they intervened to break up riots on Wednesday.

A hospital official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said over 50 people had been injured, including some police.

“What is happening in Boke is unfortunate,” government spokesman Damantang Albert Camara said by telephone. “Our approach is to resume dialogue with the protesters and try to...restore calm.”

This week’s riots are the latest in a series that have gripped Boke this year, spurred by frustration at electricity cuts, pollution and a perceived failure of mining to raise living standards.

The situation remained tense on Friday, although violence appeared to be subsiding.

“There was a lot of shooting during the night. This morning the young people are still angry even if some of them are starting to listen to the envoys who came to sensitize them and get them to lift the barricades,” said Boke resident Mamadou Diallo.

“Of our three (mining) sites Katougouma, Malapouyah and Dapilong, only Katougouma is partly operational and the other two are blocked because of this difficult situation,” said Frederic Bouzigues, general manager of Societe Miniere de Boke (SMB).

SMB is owned by China’s Winning Shipping Ltd and Shandong Weiqiao [SDWQP.UL], along with UMS International Ltd and the Guinean state. It is one of two mining companies in Boke that each produce about 15 million tonnes of the aluminum ore bauxite annually.

The other company, the Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee (CBG), did not respond to requests for comment. CBG is 49 percent owned by the Guinean state and the remainder by Alcoa, Rio Tinto Alcan [RIOXXA.UL] and Dadco.

Bauxite is the principal ore used in the production of aluminum.

Reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by Nellie Peyton,; Editing by Joe Bavier and Ralph Boulton