Please tell us a bit about Alufer’s work in Guinea
Alufer Mining is operating the Bel Air bauxite mine in Guinea. Alufer found the deposit through maiden drilling in 2011, developed, financed and constructed it and brought it into production on time, under budget and with no lost time injuries in August last year. Bel Air is located about 210km from Conakry in the Boffa Prefecture, and the mining deposits are approximately 15km from the coast. The project has simple mining and infrastructure requirements and we have built our own sea port, so importantly we control the full logistics chain from pit to ship.
How do you see initiatives like the Symposium Mines Guinee to be beneficial in increasing awareness and economic development in the region?
These events help to further shine a spotlight on Guinea as a key mining destination on the world stage. With around 30% of global bauxite reserves, along with a wealth of other metals and minerals, Guinea has an abundance of natural resource potential. Harnessing this effectively to look to generate economic benefits for the country and ensure that companies are good corporate citizens is extremely important and these events provide an excellent platform to highlight this.
You will be participating on the Mines and Local Content session at SMG. Could you share one or two of Alufer’s local content development initiatives?
In 2018, we launched several economic development initiatives, in support of solar salt production in the local area, fruit growing and food cropping. Our food cropping initiative in particular has generated substantial interest and has now been expanded to include 7 villages on a total of 15 hectares. Bel Air Mining has provided technical support and seeds in order to establish crops such as chillies, aubergines, cassava, tomatoes. Pineapples are also been trialled in one village. With production now well under way we are looking at how we can further beneficiate this process to increase revenues going forward, by supporting access to market and transformation in coming years.
Another key initiative is our local training programme. In conjunction with our mining contractor, we have committed to training up 180 people from impacted villages to qualify as mining equipment operators over the next two years. Qualifications post training will enable them to seek work with Alufer or help secure other employment. 67 people have been enrolled to date, 11 people have graduated as ADT operators and are working for our contractor already, and we look forward to expanding this further over the coming months. Our shipping contractor SMT also commenced a scholarship programme and sent 4 successful candidates to the maritime school in the Ivory Coast for 2-3 years. They will work for SMT on their return and SMT would like to continue this over the next 8 years.
We also seek to ensure that local companies benefit from our activities and award contracts to local firms, including firms from the project area, where possible.
What message do you have for mining companies looking for opportunities in Guinea?
Guinea is a great country to work in and we are proud to be part of its resources story. Government are actively encouraging foreign investment and provide a transparent framework for companies to work in with the Mining Code and due process that is in place. From my perspective, it is important to take a holistic view and consider the social and environmental impacts and mitigants therein when evaluating new opportunities as it is important to look to create value for all stakeholders.