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Guinea and Kindia reap benefits of mining

Although one of the poorest countries in the world, the West African country of Guinea is blessed with abundant natural resources. And the jewel in its crown is its bauxite reserves.

Accounting for 30% of the world’s bauxite reserves and 94% of bauxite production in Africa, Guinea is a major player on the global mining scene. And one of the main mining hubs in Guinea is Kindia, which with a total bauxite reserve of 20,900 million tonnes, of which just 7400 million have been explored via mining, is home to one of the world’s largest bauxite deposit.  Kindia, then, is one of the most sought-after mining locations not just in Guinea, but in the world.

Rusal’s mining activities in Kindia

Kindia, the fourth largest city in Guinea, has benefited from its mining potential in many different ways. And when the Ebola crisis of 2014 struck, its relationship with mining business Rusal was to prove crucial in helping it contain the disease.

It is in Kindia that Rusal manages the Compagnie des Bauxites de Kindia (CBK), the mining business’ largest raw materials asset and home to around 30% of the company’s total bauxite output, with around 3.2 million tonnes of bauxite produced via mining each year. In total, Rusal’s mining complex provides employment for more than 800 people in Kindia.

Rusal takes its responsibilities as an employer in Kindia very seriously. In 2007, for example, it noticed that there had been a number of fatalities on the railways of its mining complex in Kindia. An analysis revealed that the problem was unauthorised access by local people. The company immediately began a campaign in Kindia - ‘Safety of Third Parties on Guinean Railways’ – which saw the mining business work to build awareness of railway safety and organise better railway crossings.

Spreading the benefits of mining in Kindia

However, Rusal does not just aim to keep its Guinean employees safe. Wherever it is carrying out its mining operations, it also aims to improve everyday life and drive economic development in the local community. This is just what the company has done in Kindia.

Rusal has supported the community in the towns and villages surrounding the mining complex in Kindia in a variety of ways. For example, in Debele, a village near Kindia, Rusal has funded the reconstruction of a primary school, at a cost of around $26,000 US. This alone has to date enabled more than 500 Guinean children to receive a solid start to their formal education. In addition, Rusal provides school supplies not only to children in Debele, but also in other Guinean villages  each year.

Undoubtedly, the most significant thing that Rusal has done to support the people of Kindia is step in to support them when the Ebola crisis of 2014 saw the deadly virus spread through Guinea. How? By creating a cutting-edge medical centre that would not only treat those affected by the disease but also prove pivotal in the creation of a vaccine that may change the healthcare landscape for people living in the countries most at risk of an Ebola outbreak.

Leading the fight against Ebola in Guinea: The CEMRT centre in Kindia

In order to support the people of Guinea in the fightback against Ebola, Rusal began the construction of the Centre for Epidemic and Microbiological Research and Treatment (CEMRT) at the former Soviet-Guinean Pasteur Institute in Kindia.

Built in just 50 days at a cost of $10 million US, the centre in Kindia was built with expert support from Rospotrebnadzor (the Russian Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing) and brings together an infection hospital, a provisional hospital, a mobile laboratory and a blood and plasma transfusion department with a laboratory. It is also furnished with some of the most high-tech medical equipment available globally, making it one of the leading medical centres not only in Guinea, but in the whole of West Africa.

The launch of the centre was to prove a turning point in the battle against Ebola in Kindia.  Of those who visited CEMRT in Kindia to receive treatment for Ebola, 62.5% recovered – the best response rate in Guinea. In fact the centre in Kindia was deemed to be so important to Guinea that it was made a medical institution of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Guinea.

Rusal also supported its employees in Kindia by ensuring they received the right information about how they personally could help prevent the spread of Ebola and ensuring that the disease was not inadvertently spread through its mining activities. This included the implementation of control measures, such as the disinfection of mining premises, workstations and workers’ homes and raising awareness about how even something as simple as good personal hygiene could help stop the spread of the deadly disease.

But the centre in Kindia did not just help the people of Guinea face the Ebola crisis as-it-happened. It also helped Guinea – and indeed the world – ensure that it was better prepared for an outbreak of Ebola in the future by being pivotal in the development of a vaccine to protect against the virus.

And in August 2017, Rusal announced that along with the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, it would support the post-authorisation study of the Russian vaccine Gam Evac-Combi, which would take place in Kindia in Guinea at the CEMRT centre. There, over a thousand volunteers will visit the centre in Kindia to take part in a clinical trial which will see their health and immune system closely monitored for a year. If the trial is successful, the vaccine will be distributed worldwide.

While the Ebola crisis is over, Rusal’s presence in Kindia remains, both in the form of its commercial mining activities and its support for CEMRT. With Rusal’s help, Kindia has become not only one of the world’s leading centres for mining, but the hub in which some of the most exciting medical research is being conducted.