CONAKRY, April 25 Riots have paralysed a major
bauxite mining hub in Guinea, Africa's top producer, as
residents erected barricades and burned tyres to protest against
high pollution levels and power cuts, government and company
officials said on Tuesday.
The unrest broke out on Monday night in the city of Boke,
home to mining companies Societe Miniere de Boke (SMB) and
Companie Bauxite de Guinee (CBG) which each export around 15
million tonnes of the aluminium ore annually.
"It's a problem with electricity that aggravated the
situation. We are working on finding a solution to the problem,"
said Saadou Nimaga, secretary general at Guinea's Mines
A police source said anti-riot police had been sent to rein
in the protests on Tuesday. Mining activity has fuelled tensions
in cities such as Boke, where much of the population remains
poor and unemployed despite Guinea's mineral riches.
The West African nation possesses about a third of the
world's bauxite reserves.
A senior company official, who asked not to be named, said
the riots had caused a slowdown of activities at CBG, which is
49 percent owned by the Guinean state and the remainder by Alcoa
, Rio Tinto Alcan and Dadco.
Representatives for SMB were not immediately available for
comment. The company is owned by Chinese firms Winning Shipping
Ltd and Shandong Weiqiao along with UMS International
Ltd and Guinea.
"It's nearly the whole city that has risen up against the
pollution and power cuts," said another mining company official
who asked not to be named because he was not authorised to speak
to the press.
(Reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by Nellie Peyton; Editing by
Joe Bavier and David Evans)