Disturbing Mining Sector News from #Mauritania

Injured MCM mine worker Mohamed Ould Khatari
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Some news stories caught my attention today, each relating to mining in Mauritania, which is a major source of income for the country, although only a tiny fraction of the revenue finds its way to the impoverished population.

First, a report [ar] that there are hundreds of unexploited areas of mining potential which have been discovered by surveys – as many as 900 – with less than 300 licences granted so far. The report also claims that contributions from mining have increased by 16%

The next story [ar] is of SAMIA gypsum mine workers appealing to an industry watchdog to investigate the reports made by their employers of profits, which the workers say are inaccurate. The workers believe the joint operation, which is 50% owned by an investor in Kuwait, has made a loss, and that this is attributable to fraudulent practices. They say the Q1 reports were based on erroneous data supporting a 20 million MRO profit when in fact it should register a 60 million MRO loss, and that they have documented evidence of these allegations. Sahara Medias adds that the reporters wanted to contact the company for comment but were unable to find a telephone contact. By common accounts, this is a fairly typical situation for notoriously corrupt Mauritanian commercial dealings: it was described to me as “business as usual”.

These stories brought to mind Kinross Gold’s claims that the strike action which ended a few days ago was causing them to lose vast sums of money, amounts which would transform Tasiast into a far more valuable operation than it is in reality. Interestingly enough, Kinross shares nudged up a little on the news. We know that Kinross was in difficulties after it’s takeover of the Tasiast mine and has written off part of the purchase, which included a massive payout to at least one former director, who was retained as consultant. The $11 billion Canadian company has lost some $3 billion of its worth since the start of 2012 and is embroiled in alleged violations of securities laws, leading analysts to speculate the company may succumb to hostile takeover bids.

Injured MCM mine worker Mohamed Ould Khatari

Finally, there is the sad case of a worker from the Akjoujt mine operated by MCM who was exposed to toxic chemical powder at work and was given only rudimentary treatment (the exposed skin was washed with water). He eventually reported MCM to the gendarmerie for negligence after they refused to send him for a spcialist consultation. He was then sent for medical treatment, but the doctor just prescribed a topical antibiotic and told him to take Paracetamol for the agonising burning pain still affecting his arm, which is covered in irregular lesions.

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