Nov 01 2008

Protests in Guinea – Direct Action Stops Bauxite Transport

In Guinea, West Africa, people have stopped trains from Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee (CBG) that move bauxite from mines to the harbors. Bauxite is the major raw material for aluminium production and Guinea is the world’s biggest bauxite exporter. The protests started yesterday morning, October 31st and have been increasing since than.
Protesters have been seeking out officialdom´s houses, robbed them and put fire to many houses. At least one woman died during riots that resulted from the actions. Today, the protesters have managed to stop many  trains interrupting the transport of bauxite, which is the country’s biggest export product.

A spokesperson from Alcoa, said to Reuters that these actions have not had any serious effects on aluminium production in the world. But because of Guinea’s importance as a bauxite supplier, the aluminium industry has key interests there. It is the industry’s benefit that the ongoing situation in the country gets solved.

The protesters complain about lack of electricity and water. Guinean people state that mine owners have been cutting off water pipes and monopolizing energy resources. Services to the public are very restricted, both because of lack of money and because of huge corruption.

This is not the first time the people of Guinea assert themselves with such methods. In the beginning of October one man died and many people were injured when a group of people tried to stop a train transporting bauxite.

Alcoa and Rio Tinto Alcan control the Halco joint venture that owns 51 percent of CBG, and the Guinean government holds the remainder. In July, the Guinean government said it was replacing Alcoa as manager of CBG with an interim committee.