Thursday, June 12, 2008

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Sangaredi Bauxite Mine

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The Sangaredi Mine in the Upper Guinea Forest falls within one of the world's most biologically rich, yet seriously threatened, ecosystems. Recent biological assessment of the area surrounding the bauxite mine and proposed alumina processing facility identified five reptile species, 17 amphibian species, 140 species of birds, 16 species of mammals, and eight primate species, including the endangered West African chimpanzee and western red colobus.

The Sangaredi Mine is Guinea's largest and most profitable. A proposed alumina refinery, sited approximately 25 km to the west of the mine, is expected to bring a US$3 000 million capital investment, thousands of jobs, and infrastructure development. The consortium which is building the refinery is working with Conservation International to incorporate ecological considerations into the plans. A biological assessment of the area was conducted as a part of that process.

Bauxite mines and alumina refineries typically create serious ecological problems. Bauxite ore is mined in open pits, requiring the removal of vegetation and topsoil. In the 2007 image, the Sangaredi Mine is visible as a vast open pit approximately 20 km from one end to the other. Alumina refining produces highly caustic 'red mud' that negatively affects surface and groundwater quality. In addition to direct environmental impacts, the increased population and infrastructure development associated with the mine will likely put immense pressure on this environmental “hotspot.”
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