Polishing Reporting Skills on the Mining Sector in Guinea

Country: Guinea
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Last Wednesday, 5 December, 16 Guinean journalists completed an intense program in the capital of Conakry and experienced an eye-opening field trip to the country’s largest bauxite mine. (See our photos from the field trip.)

Over the course of the 10 days, participants were schooled in a wide range of topics from the role of journalists in the oil, gas and mining industries to the lifecycle of a mine. They listened to key players in Guinea’s mining sector, including a former Minister of Mines, the current head of the state mining company, La Société Guinéenne du Patrimoine Minier Ahmed Kante; the head of Guinea’s Publish What You Pay chapter, Mamadou Taran Diallo; and Danny Keating, CEO of Alufer Mining, a bauxite mining company that is currently exploring in Guinea.

After four days in the classroom, the group boarded a bus bound for Sangeredi, where bauxite was first discovered in 1819 and later confirmed as the best quality bauxite in the world. The journalists planned to visit Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee (CBG), which created the town of Sangaredi soon after the company was formed in 1963. In Sangaredi, the journalists met with the local authorities who guided them around town and spoke of their relationship with the mining company. A trip to a neighboring village overlooking the open-pit mine allowed them to see what life was like for communities before and after the mine opened. Speaking to the company and the communities made the journalists think and question the differing viewpoints and information.

The issue of local training and employment was one that came up frequently, so the journalists also visited a nearby professional training school that works with various companies to train skilled staff for work in the mines. The trip ended with a tour of the mine and a visit to the loading points where bauxite is taken for export to alumina and aluminum refineries abroad. An engaging session with CBG CEO Kemoko Toure shed further light on the company’s operations and ambitions. The Guinean government owns 49 percent of CBG, positioning it as a significant player for both the mining sector and national development as a whole.

Upon returning to Conakry, the journalists prepared articles to publish in their media outlets to share the knowledge they attained with their fellow citizens. The media training program continues until the end of February 2013 with mentoring, more mine visits and the development of a guide on Guinea’s mining sector.

The program is developed and conducted through RWI’s partnership with the Institut Superieur de l'Information et de la Communication and the Thomson Reuters Foundation. It is part of a larger project initiated by the Open Society Initiative of West Africa and RWI that seeks to provide journalists, parliamentarians and civil society with the knowledge and tools to contribute to the transparent and responsible management of the oil, gas mining industries.

Emma Tarrant Tayou is RWI Africa Regional Associate.

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