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As per our sources reported on 23rdMarch 2021, an investigation was opened in Paris after a complaint about corruption in the exploitation of bauxite in Guinea comprising President Alpha Condé, several of his relatives and mining companies. This preliminary investigation, opened by the National Financial Prosecutor's Office (PNF) in September, follows the complaint about "corruption, influence peddling and corruption laundering", filed in August by the Collective for the transition in Guinea (CTG). Ibrahim Sorel Keita, CTG, spokesperson, said: "We have very strong suspicions of corruption between the ruling clan and the miners, including the Responsible Mining Alliance (AMR) and the Boké Mining Company (SMB).” The words of CTG bring together the opponents of Alpha Condé, President since 2010 and re-elected in October’20 for a controversial third term. Romain Girbal and Thibault Launay two young entrepreneurs, founded AMR in 2015, obtained a license to mine bauxite, which was permitted by President Condé’s government on 7thJune 2017. However, a week later, AMR sold this deposit to SMB, one of the country's main exporters, owned by a Franco-Sino consortium. The AMR assured, while the announcement of the complaint that they have in fact concluded a farm-out contract, which is considered as a common practice in the international mining sector, perfectly in accordance with the Guinean Mining Code. "We have never done anything illegal in France or in Guinea", as stated by AMR, which counts on its board of directors in particular the former boss of Areva Anne Lauvergeon and the shipowner Edouard Louis- Dreyfus. "The origin of the allegations is a political fight which is foreign to us", adds the AMR, denouncing "incomprehensible" attacks and specifying to ignore everything of the investigation. “The instrumentalization of justice both in France and in Guinea is in the context of ‘a political struggle’. “I have nothing to say, not having had access to this complaint which comes from a political organization and is openly part of an electoral calendar", underlined Me François Zimeray, a lawyer for the leader of the SMB Fadi Wazni.

Eyes on China

Apr 15 (SMM)—At the economic work conference (Two Sessions), China emphasised the "stability" of macroeconomic policies and the strengthening of regulations of raw materials markets to ease the cost pressure of enterprises. That depressed market bullishness. US President Biden officially announced a package of over $2 trillion in infrastructure and economic stimulus, aiming at optimising the development of infrastructure, manufacturing and the Internet. US Treasury yields are expected to surge to high levels amid economic recovery in the US from the COVID-19. The US dollar index is expected to remain in an upward track. Copper prices are expected to meet strong resistance from 68,000 yuan/mt. Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia has declared force majeure due to COVID-19 prevention at the port along the border, stopping shipments of copper concentrate to China. It is unknown when shipments will resume remains uncertain. In addition, the Chilean government has tightened controls on population movements, which has also restricted international transportation. Although copper cathode market has not yet been affected, market concerns linger. On demand, orders from the State Grid have picked up. The pandemic is expected to continue to plague the market in the high month of April. Meanwhile, smelters will conduct concentrated maintenance in the second quarter, and construction projects such as infrastructure and real estate have gradually started, improving consumption of copper rods produced with copper cathode and copper tubes. SMM understood that production schedules at major domestic air-conditioning companies in April increased around 33% year-on-year, and operating rates at copper tube plants are expected to continue to rise. Market expectations over the high month of April, concentrated maintenance at smelters and the decline in SHFE copper inventory should support copper prices to move at high levels. Aggressive market speculative operations were believed to have driven the surge in SHFE copper prices on February 25 and the sharp drop on February 26. Copper prices are expected to move rangebound at high levels in April amid stable macroeconomy and fundamentals in the short term. SHFE copper prices will fluctuate at 65,000-68,000 yuan/mt in April, and LME copper is expected to trade between $8,700-9,150/mt.

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