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Belinga iron ore mine and Belinga dam, Gabon

Large iron ore mine and related dams and railway in Gabon, to be developed by Chinese company. Opposition from Brainforest and activist Marc Ona Essangui


As explained by R. Dittgen (2011), Gabon is a sparsely populated state with a total of 1.5 million people and a low density of population. Historically, one of the major pillars of the “Françafrique”, its economy is largely dependent on petroleum-based rent.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Belinga iron ore mine and Belinga dam, Gabon
State or province:Ogooué-Ivindo
Location of conflict:Belinga
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mining exploration and/or ore extraction
Land acquisition conflicts
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Electricity
Iron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project details

1 billion tons iron ore, at 30 million tons per year.

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Level of Investment for the conflictive project2,200,000,000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:01/01/2006
Company names or state enterprises:China National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation (CMEC) from China
Relevant government actors:SEM Societe Equatoriale des Mines
Ministry of Mines (Gabon)
International and Finance InstitutionsChina Export Import Bank (China Exim) from China
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Brainforest
Environnement Gabon
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Other environmental related diseases, Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Violent targeting of activists
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Despite effort by EJO Brainforest and environmentalist Marc Ona Essangui, the government plans to move ahead in 2016 with a tender on the iron mine.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Victoria Gill, Science reporter, BBC News, 2009
[click to view]

Blog entry in EJOLT, 2012
[click to view]

Roman Dittgen, 2011, New development cycle through long-term investment ? China and the Bélinga project in Gabon, Echo-Géo. n. 17.
[click to view]

Reuters, Emma Farge, interview with Gabon's officials, 2014
[click to view]

International Rivers, report on the Belinga dam
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:prof. Joan Martinez Alier
Last update31/08/2023
Conflict ID:2094
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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