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China’s “Aluminum and Iron Ally” Guinea

Since the military coup in Guinea, its relationship with China has received increased attention. Guinea has long maintained good relations with China. During the Presidency of Alpha Condé, Guinea became an important ally of China’s “Belt and Road” project.

China is the main importer of bauxite ore from Guinea, accounting for nearly half of the country’s total imports. Chalco’s (Aluminum Corporation of China Limited) bauxite project in Boffa, Guinea started operation in April 2020. As a result of exploration, the project sees resources of about 1.75 billion tons which will allow mining for up to 60 years. The total investment in the first phase of the project is about US$585 million and the designed capacity is 12 million tons of high-quality bauxite per year.

Simandou in southern Guinea is one of the world’s largest undeveloped high-quality open-pit hematite mines, with proven reserves of 2.4 billion tons and an estimated annual production of 150 million tons at full capacity, although its exploitation has been delayed by legal disputes and corruption allegations.

In November 2019, the Winning Consortium, a consortium led by a Chinese company, obtained 85 percent of the ownership of blocks 1 and 2 in the north of Simandou. In the south, Chinese companies control 40 percent of Blocks 3 and 4.

China imports more than 1 billion tons of iron ore each year. About 60 percent of it comes from Australia and 20 percent from Brazil. Although Simandou’s production seems small, analysts believe China can use it to reduce its dependence on Australia at a time when Sino-Australian relations have hit a freezing point.

The close ties between the two countries made Guinea one of the first countries to receive Chinese vaccine aid this year. Earlier, China was quick to congratulate President Condé after he amended the constitution and was re-elected president in October 2020, despite the opposition’s accusations of electoral fraud.

Source: BBC Chinese, September 7, 2021