Bauxite mining in Guinea, one of the world’s poorest countries, is booming. Since 2015, the government of President Alpha Condé has transformed Guinea into a top global exporter, and the biggest to China, where the bulk of global aluminum is produced. Bauxite from Guinea now makes up a large proportion of the aluminum used across the world in car and airplane parts and consumer products like beverage cans and tin foil. With several more companies preparing to begin exports, Guinea, which has the world’s largest bauxite deposits, may soon become the largest global producer.
The Boké region, in northwestern Guinea, has been the center of much of the bauxite sector’s recent growth. The region now has dozens of open-sky bauxite quarries, whose red earth makes them hard to miss in Guinea’s often verdant landscape. Mining companies use heavy machinery to remove any earth covering the bauxite and dynamite blasting to break up the ore found underneath. A network of mining roads and railways, used to transport bauxite to ports, crisscross once isolated rural communities. Industrial ports, where bauxite is loaded onto barges or ships for export, are juxtaposed with the mangroves, paddy fields and local fishing ports that formed the backbone of riverside communities’ livelihoods.
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