May 01, 2015

ABA ROLI to Publish a Guide for Mining Communities in Guinea

May 2015

The ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) is working on a mining and human rights guide that Guinean civil society organizations (CSOs) can use to help mining communities assert their rights.

The guide, which will consolidate domestic and international legal frameworks and comparative best practices, is part of ABA ROLI’s ongoing efforts to empower Guinea’s mining communities. The guide responds to a need identified during community consultations ABA ROLI held in February 2015 in two regions in upper Guinea (Haute Guinée and Guinée Forestière). A total of 88 citizens took part in four community consultation sessions that highlighted the issues communities have faced in their interactions with the formal extractive industry, including loss of land, environmental degradation, forced resettlement and destablization of local economies.

One of the sessions, which took place in the village of Kintinia, Haute Guinée, was attended by five female community leaders. The mining company that operates in Kintinia has conducted large-scale gold extraction operations for decades, leading to harmful environmental, economic and societal effects. Participants at the consultation session said that their community has suffered as a result. The mining company acquired land traditionally used by community members for small-scale artisanal mining activities, denying residents access to agriculture or artisanal mining as means of income generation. The mining company has also not employed community members, causing the women of Kintinia—who have since turned to other forms of income generation, such as cloth dyeing and soap making—to become the main breadwinners for their families. “Our fields are occupied by the company, our children were not hired by the company as hoped, and we, the women in this community, cannot sustain our livelihoods based on [artisanal] mining since the company has taken over,” said one woman who attended the consultation session, echoing sentiments that were common during consultations across Guinea’s mining communities.

Hoping to better support their families by growing and expanding their small businesses, the women sought ABA ROLI’s help to request grants or loans from the mining company.

The guide will help the rural mining communities navigate relevant local and international legal frameworks with the support of CSOs. In the interim, ABA ROLI worked with a representative from a local CSO—Association Action Mines Guinée—to connect a local government authority responsible for mining development in the area with both community members and the mining company to initiate dialogue between the two parties. Additionally, ABA ROLI will distribute copies of the guide to CSOs, local government agencies, and mining communities and companies, and train stakeholders on its use.

To learn more about our work in Guinea, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org.