Guinea coup propels aluminium to ten-year high

Coup leader promises not to impede bauxite production and exports

Aluminium rose to an all-time high on Monday, with the metal’s ongoing bull-run supercharged by a coup in Guinea. The west African nation accounts for 25% of global bauxite production, the feedstock required in the manufacture of the metal. 

Coup

On Sunday 5 September, Mamady Doumbouya, an elite special forces commander, announced on television the deposition of longstanding president, Alpha Condé, and the suspension of Guinea’s parliament. 

Doumbouya, who previously served in the French Foreign Legion, stated: “We are taking our destiny in our own hands. The personalisation of political life is over. We will no longer entrust politics to one man, we will entrust it to the people.”

The army almost immediately closed Guinea's borders, imposed an indefinite curfew and announced that regional heads and government ministers will be replaced with military commissioners and general secretaries. 

The first freely elected president in the country’s history, Condé vowed to fight corruption and bolster Guinea’s democracy on coming to power in 2010. 

Throughout his period in office, he has been dogged by allegations of corruption. An amendment in 2020 removed the two-term term limit from the nation’s constitution and allowed Condé to run for a third consecutive election, which he promptly won with 59.5% of the vote. 

Opposition groups repeatedly questioned the legitimacy of the Condé government, while over 800 people are thought to have died during civil unrest and clashes between protestors and security forces since the start of 2019. 

Metal rises on supply anxiety

The uncertainty prompted by the political upheaval, especially the looming threat of violence or even civil war, propelled the price of aluminium to its highest price since July 2011. Keen to allay such fears, Doumbaya announced on Monday that the curfew had been lifted on mining activity and that the nation’s maritime borders would remain open for mining exports. 

By mid-afternoon, spot aluminium traded up 5% at $2,789 per metric tonne, having started the year just above $2,000. 

Aluminium Corp of China (Chalco), which has a substantial operation in Guinea saw its stock jump by 4.8% to 7.96 yuan, up 110% since the start of the year. 

International reaction

Doumbouya said a new "union" government would be formed in weeks. The coup has been almost uniformly condemned by the international community. 

A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry called for Condé's immediate release and urged all parties to “maintain peace and stability”. 

Calling for a “process of national dialogue”, a US State Department spokesman stated: “Violence and any extra-constitutional measures will only erode Guinea’s prospects for peace, stability, and prosperity.”

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