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Mining: Guinea gives multinationals ultimatum, build alumina refineries or face ‘penalties’

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The interim government of Guinea has asked international mining companies to submit project proposals and a “precise timetable” for the construction of alumina refineries to the mines ministry by the end of May 2022.

The junta leader Mamady Doumbouya, announced the ultimatum during a hearing with company representatives broadcast on state television late on Friday.

“The respect of basic agreements remains non-negotiable for us,” Doumbouya said.

“You and I can no longer continue this fool’s game that perpetuates great inequality in our relations,” he added.

Guinea, which is the world’s second-largest bauxite producer, in the move to channel its mineral wealth into economic development, pressuring companies in recent years to commit to building local facilities that will refine bauxite into higher value alumina.

Bauxite is the most common ore of aluminium. Extraction of aluminium metal takes place in three main stages: mining of bauxite ore, refining the ore to recover alumina, and smelting alumina to produce aluminium. Other raw materials are mined as aluminium ore, but their use is minor compared with bauxite.

Doumbouya also added that “penalties would be placed on mining companies that fail to provide project proposals and the precise timetable for the construction of refineries before the May 2022 deadline.

Since it came on board in September, the junta has toughened its stance towards multinationals, In March, the junta ordered the cessation of all activities at the massive Simandou iron ore deposit owned by Rio Tinto and a Chinese-backed consortium, saying it was seeking clarification of how Guinea’s interests will be preserved.

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IMF Chief, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, to visit China over Africa’s growing debt profile

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As the debt profile of many African countries continues to rise, the International Monetary Fund strategy chief, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu will travel to China next week for another high-level meeting.

Her travel is part of efforts to press the world’s largest sovereign creditor for quicker progress on debt restructurings for countries in need.

The IMF chief had called for debt restructuring arrangements for Zambia and Chad to be completed shortly.

Pazarbasioglu said it was critical to move forward and that “outreach to China next week is very important, at the highest levels.”

“It’s moving – very slowly, but it’s moving,” Pazarbasioglu said, noting that the participation of mining company Glencore Plc in the Chad treatment was also “a very good sign” that “even the most difficult private sector participants” were participating.

She said the Paris Club of official bilateral creditors had taken years to hammer out their debt relief processes, and China was learning, although she noted that the debt issues facing borrowing countries now were acute.

“The problem we have is that we don’t have that time right now because these countries are very fragile and dealing with debt vulnerabilities,” she said. “What we need is speed.”

Pazarbasioglu said the IMF would continue to press for changes to the Common Framework, including a freeze in debt payments when countries apply for a debt treatment, as well as clearer procedures and timelines for action, and ensuring comparable treatment for private creditors.

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Botswana central bank predicts fall of inflation rates, maintains monetary policy

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Botswana’s central bank has predicted that the country’s inflation rate will gradually fall back within its target range by 2024.

The bank is predicting that inflation will fall back within the 3%-6% range in the third quarter of 2024. The prediction has made it keep its monetary policy rate unchanged at 2.65% on Thursday.

The bank’s governor, Moses Pelaelo while speaking at a news conference said “the domestic economy will continue to perform below capacity in the medium term and therefore not pose any inflationary pressures.”

The inflation rate in the Southern African country dipped to 13.1% year on year in October from 13.8% in September but is still far above the central bank’s 3%-6% preferred band.

“The drop in inflation in the past months is due to the dissipating effects of previous increases in administered prices,” Pelaelo said.

According to the World Bank, Botswana’s reliance on diamonds and a public sector-driven model makes the economy vulnerable to external shocks, as diamonds contribute over 80% of total exports and are a major source of fiscal revenues.

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