Coup in African nation of Guinea threatens China’s aluminum production
The West African nation of Guinea is the world's largest supplier of bauxite, and much of West Africa's bauxite is shipped to Chinese factories as the largest producers of aluminum.
Guinea, which holds a third of the world's bauxite reserves, has been in crisis since September 5 after the country’s junta overthrew the country's 83-year-old president, Alpha Condé
Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, the mastermind behind the country's coup is now the leader of the West African nation.
Doumbouya, 41, a former French Legionnaire, served for France in Afghanistan and Ivory Coast and completed a commando training course in Israel, according to his official biography.
Doumbouya also had training by US special forces stationed in his country. A photo of him meeting with the US Africa command also went viral, leading many to assume that this may have been a ‘Western-backed’ military coup,
The fate of the country is not yet clear, but the geopolitical stakes are already apparent. Guinea is rich in natural resources, but years of turmoil and mismanagement mean it’s one of the world's poorest countries.
Guinea has the world's largest bauxite reserves and is the biggest exporter of the rock, which is required to make aluminium, as well as having plentiful iron ore reserves. It also has mineral resources, including cement, salt, graphite, limestone, manganese, nickel, and uranium.
The bauxite trade is highly concentrated, with Guinea, Australia and Indonesia accounting for 99% of China’s purchases. That means there are few other ready alternatives should Guinean shipments be disrupted.
Any disruptions would mean higher raw material prices, raising costs for China’s aluminum sector that’s already under pressure from increasing power prices and a government crackdown on polluting industries.
China's condemnation of Guinea's coup is a highly unusual move from Beijing, given that it has often maintained the principle of ‘non-interference’ in relation to African states, and it illustrates how the country is of tantamount strategic importance to it.
Military coups in African countries, which have increased significantly in recent years, are the most important legacy of the Western colonial powers.
In their grab for influence and resources, colonial powers drew artificial borders across the Middle East and Africa, often arbitrarily splitting traditional tribal territories into new states.