African Minerals workers riot in Sierra Leone

Fri Apr 20, 2012 10:21am GMT

By Simon Akam

BUMBUNA, Sierra Leone (Reuters) - Two days of rioting over pay by workers from African Minerals' Sierra Leone mine have left one woman dead and at least six injured, witnesses and medical staff said.

The company said operations had seen "no significant impact".

"The government authorities are treating the protest as a matter of civil disobedience," a company spokesman said of the unrest which took place in the central town of Bumbuna, 15 km (10 miles) from African Minerals' Tonkolili mine.

The rioting began on Tuesday and went through into Wednesday. The mood calmed down by Thursday, although local people said African Minerals staff had not returned to work.

"Yesterday (Wednesday) there were shots all over the place," Nancy Turay, a 62-year old Bumbuna resident said.

African Minerals' shares traded fractionally lower at 566 pence in early London dealings.

African Minerals made its first trial shipment of ore from Tonkolili mine in November last year. Shipments from the mine are due to help Sierra Leone to what the IMF estimates at 35.9 percent growth this year, one of the highest rates in the world.

The rioting began with a protest over pay and conditions, with locals aggrieved by what they said were the higher wages received by expatriates.   Continued...

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