CONAKRY (Reuters) - One person was killed and several others injured as riots by disgruntled residents of Guinea’s main bauxite mining hub extended into a fourth day on Thursday, police and residents said.
The West African nation’s largest mining companies Societe Miniere de Boke (SMB) and Companie Bauxite de Guinee (CBG) said they had resumed normal operations but said equipment was damaged and tensions remained.
Guinea possesses about a third of the world’s reserves of the aluminium ore bauxite, but mining has stoked discontent among a population that remains largely poor and unemployed.
The unrest erupted on Monday night when residents erected barricades and burned tyres in the city of Boke to protest high pollution levels and power cuts, according to government and company officials.
Police were sent to rein in the protests the following day, and intermittent violence has continued.
“Shooting broke out again today because the police were patrolling and there were clashes. Young people have begun to erect barricades again,” said Mamadou Diallo, a resident of Boke.
He said he had seen several people with gunshot wounds being treated in a local hospital.
A police source confirmed one person was killed and four others injured in the riots but did not explain how.
“We are going to open an investigation to find out exactly what happened,” said the source, who asked not to be named because she was not authorized to speak to the media.
Demonstrators burned three vehicles belonging to SMB but mining operations picked up again by Thursday, said Fadi Wazni, chairman of the board.
SMB is owned by China’s Winning Shipping Ltd and Shandong Weiqiao, along with UMS International Ltd and the Guinean state.
A senior company official, who asked not to be named, said normal activities at CBG had also resumed after a slowdown. CBG is 49 percent owned by Guinea and the remainder by Alcoa, Rio Tinto Alcan and Dadco.
“There is a legitimate frustration but it cannot justify violence,” Guinea’s mines minister Abdoulaye Magassouba told Reuters on Wednesday.
He said the country planned to resolve the problem by reinvesting mineral revenues in local development.
Reporting by Saliou Samb and Tim Cocks; Writing by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Joe Bavier and Edmund Blair