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Guinea threatens to close mines

AngloGold workers at
Siguiri in Guinea
Onakry, Guinea — MININGREVIEW.COM — 24 April 2009 – Guinea’s military leader, Moussa Camara, has threatened to close gold mines owned by AngloGold Ashanti Limited and Crew Gold Mines Limited unless the companies agree to new regulations, including the depositing of the metal with the central bank before it is exported.

“If you accept this principle we shall agree to work together for the interest of both parties,” Camara said during a televised debate. “If you cannot submit yourself to this new rule, I believe that it would be better that we stop.”

AngloGold – which is based in Johannesburg – produced 333 000 ounces of gold from its Siguiri mine in northeastern Guinea last year, and has said the resource is large enough to double the mine’s production. Crew produced 197 556 ounces from its LEFA operation in the country in 2008.

Mining companies including gold producers, have been threatened by Camara’s government since a 23 December coup followed the death of President Lansana Conte, who had ruled the country for 24 years. Guinea is the world’s biggest exporter of bauxite, an ore used in aluminum production, and has huge iron ore deposits.

“We are in constructive dialogue with the government and are optimistic that the issues will be successfully resolved,” said AngloGold spokeswoman Joanne Jones in an e-mailed response to Bloomberg News. “While AngloGold’s production from Siguiri is currently routed through Guinea’s central bank, we haven’t sold to the bank,” she said.

Crew CEO William LeClair didn’t immediately respond to a message left on his office phone in Surrey, England.