Wrongs righted round-up

Tuesday, 22 April, 2014

Reuters, the Washington Post and others brought us news last week that Guinea - after a long period of deliberation and widespread allegations of corruption - have finally cancelled iron ore mining permits issued to  BSG Resources and its JV partner Vale. 

Accepting a report recommending the cancellation of the Simandou permits, which cover an area of about 600 square km in the Simandou Mountains that is  rich in iron ore, the government appears to concede that the rights were corruptly obtained - with a government spokesman openly referring to the "fraudulent nature of the conditions in which the permits were granted." This despite the questions it raises about the government’s role in the acquisition process. Guinea was ranked 150 out of 177 in Transparency International’s 2013 corruption perceptions index.

BSGR’s take, in a statement to Reuters: "BSGR obtained the mining rights lawfully and will mount a vigorous effort to overturn this decision, which is as predictable as it is unlawful.” BSGR, who have accused Guinean president Alpha Condé of trying to expropriate the rights by stealth, have not been shy in taking aim at those who have opposed them over this issue - as we reported in our interview with their long-term adversaries Global Witness back in December.

Vale was not fingered in the report’s findings as it had no role in acquiring the licenses, and may indeed now be able to compete for the permits as a sole bidder.

Meanwhile, continuing the theme of potential extractives wrongs righted, a campaign is underway in the South African mining industry to find more than 200,000 former mineworkers who are owed at least R5 billion in unpaid provident fund, occupational disease and service-award claims. More on that worthy initiative here.

Finally, the ever-excellent African Arguments brings us an interesting piece on the metrics behind the so-called ‘resource curse’. A fascinating (and quick) analysis of the methodologies behind various approaches to understanding intra-state conflicts in terms of their links to resources, as a hopeful first step to preventing them from happening, that piece can be found here.

Happy reading.