The Financial Times (paywall) reported on Saturday 4th Nov that the government of the Republic of Guinea is taking a tough line towards the present licence holders at Simandou. We wrote about this development last week (see featured post below) and the latest developments are also referred to here. One of the licence-holders, BSGR, has replied publicly to Guinean government here.
As we’ve said in our piece below on our homepage, it’s clear that important and helpful guarantors of reputation like trader George Soros and leading developmental economist Paul Collier have a generally good impression of the Guinean government and it’s certainly true that mining reviews make sense in new democracies. On the other hand, the Guinean government’s allegations look very general and strangely opaque. There are examples from elsewhere in Africa of perfectly well-founded mining reviews uncovering dodgy deals; but there are also examples of mining reviews being used as cover for very ropey government behaviour. We’ve visited Guinea and spoken to many local players – from ministers to businessmen, opposition leaders to people running local NGOs; not one of them were living the life of riley – there’s none of the obvious signs of old graft observable in a small minority of other African states. This gives us all the more reason to wonder how much sense it makes to ask a licence-holder to prove a negative. If there’s evidence, let us all know what it is. If there isn’t then get over it, cut the truculence and move on. Let’s see what happens next.