Bel Air Mining gets fined.

In a letter signed on July 7, 2023 by the Guinean minister of mining and geology, Moussa Magassouba, the mining company, Bel Air Mining received a fine of 60 billion 2 hundred and 15 million Guinean national francs (about $ 7 million). this huge fine sanctions the mining company for the capesizing of one of its transhipment barges on June 10, 2023 off the coast of Boffa, on the Cape Verga island where the company has its bauxite shipping port.

The capesizing of the barge poured into the Guinean waters "7 502 tons of bauxite ore" according to the letter of Minister Magassouba.

Aggravated circumstances

According to our sources, the mining company tried, first, to hide the accident from the Guinean authorities to avoid getting fined for "marine pollution". Reportedly, local fishermen leaked the information. Following the leaking of the accident, the Guinean Offic;e of Quality and Quantity Assessors for mining products intended for export, led by by Moussa NIMAGA, instructed the company to halt temporarily its bauxite shipping operations until an investigation is conducted by the relevant services to determine the causes and possibly the consequences of the capesizing.

Hence, in the view of the results of the "investigation of relevant tenchnical services of the mining administration", the above-mentioned fine has been imposed on Bel Air Mining.

A company in the throes of turmoil

Since it launched its mining activities in August 2018, Bel Air Mining has encountered a lot of challenges. The most significant one having been the "decline in bauxite prices, higher freight costs and oversuply in the market". This forced the company to temporarily suspend its operations between May 2021 through late Feb. 2023, laying off its 311 employees and 895 subcontractors for operational reasons.

The capesizing of Bel Air Mining's barge and the fine imposed by Minister Magassouba increase the challenges faced by the company and jeopadize its "going concern assumption". The letter from the minister urges the company to "submit a timeline for the payment of the said fine as of July 14, 2023". Also, "no activity will be resumed until at least a third of the amount of the fine is paid".

Following the fine imposed by the Guinean authorities, the mining company is running steps to get the amount of the fine reduced. It has reportedly sought the involvement of the "Kountigui" of Lower Guinea, Elhadj Sékhouna SOUMAH who is a well-known and influential person in the area.

Would the capesizing of Bel Air Mining's barge be the straw that will brake the camel's back and put an end to an entrepreneurial initiative that ran into many chalenges? Or, will the Guinean authorities take the necessary step back to understand that the company's continuation of operation will yield far more opportunities to job creation, local development and revenues for the Guinean state than the fine cherished by them?

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