Collapsed gold mine kills at least 15 in Guinea

At least 15 people have been killed by a landslide at a clandestine gold mine in Guinea’s north-eastern Siguiri region.

Overhanging rocks collapsed on Saturday morning, crushing some victims and burying others inside the mine.

A government spokesman has said the “exact circumstances and causes of the tragedy” will be investigated.

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A local Red Cross official said two women were among the dead and that it was likely more bodies would be found.

“This site is already mined by machines. The miners had struck too far in. That’s how the earth, being very badly suspended, gave under,” Djanko Dansoko is quoted as saying by news site Guinee360.

There are hundreds of unofficial “artisanal” mines around Siguiri, where gold is laboriously panned by hand and safety standards are low.

This particular site is near the village of Tatakourou, about 40km (25 miles) from the city centre of Siguiri.

Seventeen miners were killed in a landslide in Guinea two years ago, and a dozen more nine months later.

The search for gold attracts clandestine miners from Mali, Senegal and other West African countries.

Israeli businessman Beny Steinmetz has been given a five-year jail sentence by a court in Geneva, in a trial described as the mining sector’s biggest-ever corruption case.

The trial threw a spotlight on an often murky struggle for control of Africa’s natural resources.

Steinmetz, a former diamond magnate who also holds French citizenship, was convicted of bribing public officials in Guinea, in order to gain control of the country’s iron ore deposits.

The court also ordered him to pay compensation of 50m Swiss francs (£41m; $56m) to the state of Geneva.

“It is clear from what has been presented… that the rights were obtained through corruption and that Steinmetz co-operated with others,” to obtain them, Chief Justice Alexandra Banna told the court, according to AFP news agency.

Steinmetz, who has always denied bribery, condemned the verdict as a “big injustice”. He plans to challenge the verdict and will not go to jail pending the appeal, his lawyer said.

The Simandou mines, in south-eastern Guinea, are estimated to be the most valuable untapped iron ore deposits in the world. –BBC/AFP

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