MIGA considering support for Guinea’s Nimba mining project in UNESCO heritage site

6 October 2020

The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), the World Bank’s insurance arm, is considering support for the Nimba iron-ore mine in Guinea, according to an August report by the Africa Intelligence news site.

The site reported that MIGA will, “hold talks with [Canada-based mining firm] High Power Exploration (HPX), the majority shareholder in the site operator Société des mines de fer de Guinée (SMFG)”, to discuss MIGA’s potential involvement. It noted, “UNESCO is concerned about the environmental repercussions of operations at Nimba, which has been listed as a World Heritage site since 1981 but classified as “in danger” since 1992,” in part due to the threat of iron-ore mining. The Mount Nimba nature reserve is a biodiversity hotspot located in eastern Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire.

The report adds to existing concerns about the World Bank’s support for mining in the country. A July op-ed in development news site Devex by David Pred from US-based civil society organisation Inclusive Development International detailed the stark social and environmental impacts of bauxite mining in Guinea supported by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Bank’s private sector arm. Pred noted, “in March, a hundred families [from the village of Hamdallaye] were uprooted… and relocated to a barren hilltop to make way for a sprawling bauxite mine, backed by the International Finance Corporation.”

The displacement took place despite the fact that a 2019 complaint was filed by 13 villages (including Hamdallaye) to the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), the IFC’s accountability mechanism, alleging land grabbing (see Observer Autumn 2019).