Conakry - Guinea's government on Friday published contracts
it has signed with mining firms including majors Rio Tinto and RUSAL in a bid
for more transparency in a sector plagued by corruption and mismanagement.
President Alpha Conde vowed after taking office in 2010
following his election to revamp the minerals-rich but underdeveloped West
African nation's mining sector and review existing mining contracts.
The government is also overhauling the country's mining code
and has set up a technical committee to review existing accords, all of which
are now published online on a new government website:
Guinean officials have said many of the contracts were
signed under non-transparent conditions especially during the rule of a
military junta before Conde's 2010 election. The government says such accords
do not benefit the country.
"For a very long time, the Guinean mining sector was
characterised by opaqueness, poor governance and inefficiency," Guinean
Mines Minister Mohamed Lamine Fofana said in Conakry.
"Today, we are setting a very important milestone in
the process of implementing transparency," Fofana told reporters during a
presentation of the website.
Resources watchdog Revenue Watch, backed by billionaire
George Soros, is advising the Guinean government on transparency and how to get
more from negotiations with mining firms.
Revenue Watch said in a statement on Friday that the
government had said it would publish online any amended contract and all future
"Guinea's action is a model for other countries and
demonstrates that making contracts public is possible even in challenging
environments," Patrick Heller, senior legal adviser at Revenue Watch said
in the statement.
The watchdog, together with the World Bank Institute and
Columbia University, helped the government set up the website.
Though not the first country to make its mining contracts
publicly available - such deals are sometimes protected by confidentiality
clauses - Guinea is one of the first states in Africa to publish all of its
existing contracts and annexes.
The website so far has more than 60 contract documents
covering 18 mining projects, Revenue Watch said.