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  • French entrepreneur exploring prospects of 'responsible mining' in Guinea's bauxite hub

    Mining, as an industry, has always been associated with a history of exploitative social practices and environmental degradation, particularly in Africa. Various treaties and organizations have made efforts to clean up mining practices over the years, but very few could smell success out of it. French entrepreneur Romain Girbal has decided to start at the source. He is the president and cofounder of the Responsible Mining Alliance (AMR), a new company that is working to develop responsible mining projects in Africa that respect both the community and the environment. The company has already started its first bauxite mine in Guinea and its passionate leader is looking to expand.

    Romain Girbal joined mining behemoth Glencore after graduating from the prestigious HEC business school in Paris in 2007. In 2008, he left Glencore to become the director of the legal department of Harvest Energy Limited (owned by State Oil). However, he soon became disinterested and started out to explore his entrepreneurial self. He joined up with his friend Thibault Launay and in the year 2012, created Adventure Capital Corporation, a venture capital and consulting firm specializing in mining, oil and gas investments, mostly in Africa.

    Responsible Mining Alliance happened in July 2015. This time, Romain Girbal and Thibault Launay set out to develop mining projects in Africa that were responsible both socially and environmentally, an innovative and ambitious vision that would begin to take shape in Guinea.

    The Responsible Mining Alliance now holds a bauxite mining permit in Boké, in the northwest of the country. The company represents a strategic business choice to invest in bauxite, a mineral necessary for the production of aluminum.

    "For the moment we’re only operating in the Boké prefecture, which is the real global center of bauxite and where the future of this strategic mineral lies because it’s where you find the world’s best bauxite,” Girbal notes.

    In Boke prefecture, the Responsible Mining Allia nce has obtained an exploration permit for 295 square kilometers (114 square miles). Prospecting has already begun and extraction should start soon. This deposit contains an estimated 650 million tons of very high quality bauxite.

    “I think we came at the right time to Guinea, getting started with a very promising bauxite permit,” Girbal says. “That’s how we have been able to develop the Responsible Mining Alliance and get to where we are today.”

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