Tuesday, 25 January 2011

New government threatens Vale's interests in Guinea Conakry

From the bulletin "Africa Mining Intelligence" N° 242  01/19/2011

How Soros is backing new Guinean leader

According to Africa Mining Intelligence’s sources, Guinea president Alpha Conde called on billionaire George Soros early this month for assistance in pushing through reforms in the mining and oil sectors. And he telephoned earlier, on March 18, when he was standing for the presidency to ask for help in meeting his electoral pledges. 
The billionaire has sent a first team composed of lawyer Patrick Heller from the Revenue Watch Institute and economist Paul Collier, director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford and formerly in charge of the Africa section of the World Bank, to Conakry consult with Guinea’s new leader. Collier had already worked on studies financed by Soros. 
The talks reportedly concerned an eventual and mandatory government acquisition of a 33% holding in all companies operating in the country. Conde is said to have wished a revision of a “shareholder agreement” signed between the former government and the China International Fund (CIF) in October 2009 as well as a change in the original agreement with BSG Resources in 2009 that led to the formation of a joint venture with Vale. He also reportedly wants to modify an oil production sharing contract with SCS Corporation, a subsidiary of Hyperdynamics. Other aides from Soros’ Open Society Institute are expected in Conakry this week. 
In addition, Africa Mining Intelligence understands that former British prime minister Tony Blair and the ex French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, who was present when Conde was sworn in on Dec. 31, are also backing Soros’ initiative. Sierra Leone president Ernest Bai Koromo is to participate in the shakeup through the intermediary of his mines minister, Alpha Kanu. Conde is due to outline his position on mining in Guinea during the fifth conference of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in Paris on March 2-3.

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