UPDATE: Revenue Watch Institute/Guinea project

The work in brief: In August 2012, Banyan was asked by the Revenue Watch Institute (RWI) to support a technical assistance project to the government of the Republic of Guinea. The project lasted from August 2012 to April 2013. The students involved were Virginie Rouas (SOAS, PhD), Allison Lindner (SOAS, LLM), Katharina Theil (SOAS, LLM) and Luke Smitham (SOAS, MA Law).

The work involved conducting background research on companies involved in the Guinean mining sector. Each student was assigned one or two companies to research and a set of questions to answer. A lot of the information required knowledge of company law and structures, human rights law and labour rights. We also conducted research on company prospects and their presence in Africa. The work therefore required adaptable and varied research skills, as well as wide-ranging knowledge not limited to ‘the law.’

The work was fairly extensive and required more hours than originally estimated. By the end of the project, we had completed 4 reports on 4 of the world’s biggest mining companies.

Our final 20 to 30 page reports in French were submitted to our coordinators at the Revenue Watch Institute, Thomas Lassourd and Patrick Heller.

The goal of the work: In January 2012, the Government of Guinea announced a systematic review process of all of Guinea’s existing mining conventions. The “Technical Committee in charge of reviewing mining titles and contracts” (Comité Technique de Revue des Titres et Conventions Miniers (CTRTCM)) was created to oversee this process. In short, the role of the CTRTCM is to oversee a transparency drive in the Guinean mining sector as well as re-negotiate contracts with mining companies to ensure the country gets its fair share of mining revenue.

This is where our work came in. Our reports were used by the CTRTCM and the RWI for these negotiations to ensure everyone had in-depth knowledge of the companies, situation and people they were negotiating with. We provided the background research which made a more level-playing field possible.

For further information on the CTRTCM, RWI’s work in Guinea or Guinea’s transparency drive, we recommend the following links:

ITIE Terms of Reference for Guinea Contract Review Process (PDF)

RWI, “Guinea: Making Contracts Public for Greater Transparency, Accountability,” 15th February 2013

Comité Technique de Revue des Titres et Conventions Miniers (CTRTCM) (mostly in French)

What the organisation said about our work: Patrick Heller, senior legal advisor at RWI, said:

“The work conducted by the Banyan researchers provided invaluable information and guidance to Revenue Watch and our counterparts in the government of Guinea as we sought to deepen our understanding of the particular challenges the country faces in reforming its management of the mining sector. The Banyan team conducted strong, context-specific analysis well-tailored to our needs, and made a significant impact on the reform process.”

Moving forward: The drive for further reforms in the Guinean mining sector is continuing, a development we at Banyan are proud to have been a part of. We hope the Guinean example will inspire other countries not only in their aims but also their methods to make their extractive sectors more accountable.

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