Bissau, Guinea-Bissau — MININGREVIEW.COM — 30 June 2008 – Angola is developing a US$500 million (R4 billion) project to mine 3 million tonnes of bauxite a year in Guinea-Bissau in a regional investment foray by sub-Saharan Africa’s No. 2 oil producer.
Quoting officials here, Reuters reports that the mine would be the single biggest foreign investment in one of the world’s poorest states, with a history of political instability since independence from Portugal in 1974.
Angola Bauxite – part-owned by the Angolan state – paid an up-front fee of US$13 million (R104 million) to Guinea-Bissau in September 2007 for a leased mining concession in the south-eastern Boe region.
According to Reuters, Guinea-Bissau officials say the Boe deposits are a continuation across the thickly forested border of huge bauxite reserves in neighbouring Guinea, the world’s leading exporter of bauxite – the ore from which aluminium is made.
The Angolan company will seek to develop reserves in Guinea-Bissau calculated at 110 million tonnes, containing 44% aluminium oxide, according to studies carried out in the early 1980s by a Soviet firm, Techno-export.
Reuters reports that plans include a new deep-water port on the Buba river. “It will be a total investment of around US$500 million (R4 billion), and will include exploitation of bauxite, and construction of the port of Buba, as well as a railway and road linking Boe and Buba,” Guinea-Bissau’s Infrastructure Minister Rui Araujo told the news agency. “We can say that the actions have started, we’re at a preliminary phase, and the studies are being done,” he said.
Precise start-up dates still have to be defined. A potential second phase of the project foresees construction of an aluminium plant to process bauxite in Guinea-Bissau, according to local mine officials.
Araujo said that for the moment Angola was the only investor, but added that Guinea-Bissau could seek additional partners for the project. He also mentioned that Guinea-Bissau was looking to construct a hydro-electric dam at Saltinho to provide energy for the project.