Beny Steinmetz, blood diamonds, clinics, communities, diamond mining, Diamonds, displacement of communities for mining, Doctors without Borders, Ebola, ebola clinics, Ebola in West Africa, Ebola outbreak, environment, exploitation, funds needed for Ebola, Kailahun, Kenema, Koidu Holdings, Koidu Hospital Sierra Leone consulting, Kono District, Medicins Sans Frontieres, Mining Companies, Red Cross, resource exploitation, Roads, robbery, Schools, Sierra Leone, Sierra Leone Ebola clinic, Steinmetz, USAID, water, West Africa
“The diamond-rich district of Kono, which includes the town of Koidu, does not have an Ebola treatment center and cases are taken to neighboring Kenema or Kailahun,” (See: “Curfew in Sierra Leone town after rioting, shooting over Ebola case“, Tue, 21 Oct 2014 http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/healthNews/~3/YAop1hOatxw/story01.htm)
Say what? The private owner of the town’s big diamond mine, Koidu, is Beny Steinmetz who has wealth estimated to be between $3.5 to $6 billion, though he may have recently sold some interests to his brother, probably due to allegations against Beny of bribery in neighboring Guinea.
The UN says that about $1 billion is what is needed to deal with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa – multi-billionaire Steinmetz wouldn’t notice that as missing! He certainly wouldn’t miss the amount for a little clinic near his mine. It could be a tax write-off, if he pays taxes.
Tiny, cute “Koidu Government Hospital” provided by USAID a decade ago, with parters NGO PREMIER URGENCE; the Koidu people and NOT the mining company(ies)! No, in general the mining companies do almost nothing except take the wealth out of Africa, and destroy its environment. Why should they do anything when governments, volunteers and NGOs will do it all? Or, just let the population do without and the environment destroyed.
“Nurse at Koidu Hospital Sierra Leone consulting with patients when the hospital had been rebuilt after the Sierra Leone Civil War, March 2006, USAID, L. Lartigue”
“American aid workers helped rebuild the Koidu Government hospital, which has improved the previously alarming health situation in the town. Various other aid organizations, including the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR and its partners, have helped drill wells, re-build clinics and schools and regenerate livelihoods in the area, as part of a programme to support the reintegration of Sierra Leoneans who returned after living for several years as refugees in neighbouring countries.” (Emphasis our own) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koidutown-Sefadu
From our reading, governments, NGOs, and churches do almost everything which is done in Sierra Leone, all while Beny Steinmetz-Koidu has moved communities and digs gaping holes in 4.9 km2 of ground to obtain about 120,000 carats per year of diamonds or more. He is surely not unique, either. When you see how the children have to walk 3 miles to school, it could be simply to get around the mining concession! 4.9 km is about 3 miles.
Steinmetz- Koidu Holdings (or whatever it is now called) did give something to the Ebola effort. We found it researching yesterday, but can’t find it again, so unimpressed is the media. There is nothing on their web site. It included some containers for handwashing – maybe 60 containers? Some made fun of it, but the chief reportedly thanked the mining company. Steinmetz-Koidu Holdings gave some money too, from our recollection around 40 million Sierra Leone Leone, which sounds like a lot of money until you consider that it’s only worth about $9,200, 8,800 Swiss francs, 7295 euros! (1 Sierra Leonean Leone equals 0.00023 US Dollar, 0.00022 Swiss Franc, 0.00018 euros). This may not be accurate as the media was so totally unimpressed by their donation that we couldn’t find any reference at all again! And, our memory is no longer perfect. So, Steinmetz brothers, if this is inaccurate, then please put the amount on your web site!
We will not be impressed, however, until they give at least $1 billion (or euros or francs or pounds) of investment in the community and in healthcare.
According to Talini Beanie, 2013: “Have the multinational companies invested in basic infrastructure such as paved roads? The answer is no…. While sanitation and garbage disposal infrastructure is also in dire need of investment in most of the country, Kono has the additional disadvantage of compounding that with environmental damage from mining.” http://fellowsblog.kiva.org/fellowsblog/2013/05/02/the-curse-of-diamond-mining-in-sierra-leone
We hope that you watch the short, 18 minute, 2011 video about a community near the diamond mine, which we posted yesterday. It is Creative Commons no derivs so we posted it separately: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/kono-communities-affected-by-mining-sierra-leone/
Their allegations, which are very damning, have been echoed elsewhere.
They tell of problems with their water, leading to diarrhea and vomiting. That just happens to be chief symptoms of Ebola, and certainly would make them weakened and more susceptible to Ebola. It also raises the possibility of false diagnosis.
They complained of much smaller houses than the homes from which they had been removed and made of mud, instead of concrete. The mud was not properly baked into bricks. (Earth bricks would be more suitable for the climate, but unbaked mud bricks allows burrowing entry of disease-carrying rats, among other things.)
They reported very small children having to walk 3 miles (4.8 km) to school on muddy, unpaved paths and said they would like a school nearby. Note that they are walking to a school provided by the United Methodist Church, most likely United Methodist Women, and not by the mining company! Noise from mining was a major problem too.
We found similar concerns on internet about the Koidu mine, such as a governmental investigation into substandard-poorly constructed housing, with inadequate ventilation and only one exit. This was in the Manjama Area of the Kono District, and meant to rehouse residents moved due to the blasting operations of Koidu Holdings. It seems to have already belonged, at least in part, to Beny Steinmetz in this period.
A Teacher at the United Methodist Church Girls School in Koidu, said that the mine blasting not only interrupts school work, but has led to cracks in the school building: “cracks all over the place“. In the past they had been notified, but then starting taking them “unawares”. Following blasting on March 1st 2004, by Koidu Holdings, 3 elderly women who were unable to evacuate ended up hospitalized, apparently from shock (the article’s not really clear and speaks of them being “quickly revived”). http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=691
Rupert Neate of The Guardian (16 Oct. 2014) seemed very impressed by 709 million Leones (163,000 USD, 103,000 pounds, 130, 824 euros) given by the London Mining Co., and that they were HELPING to build a 130 bed Ebola centre. But, what does this help entail? According to the London Mining web site (7 Oct. 2014), the Ebola treatment center is funded by the US and Irish governments. It will be operated by the International Medical Corps (IMC). London Mining provided a surveyor and some fuel. Dawnus Mining provided earthmoving equipment to clear the land (15 acres). They may provide some additional help AT COST for the construction, including concrete foundations, perimeter security and water borehole installations. So, they are mostly donating labor – perhaps volunteerism by their workers? Beware, when you read that the Mining companies are building this or that! At least London Mining is honest on what they are or are not doing. This appears not always the case.
As we saw in the video yesterday, Steinmetz is apparently not even doing what should be minimally expected (unless something’s changed). People near his mining operations in Koidu reported vomiting and diarrhea from contaminated water.
The Koidu Mine is in the very upper right hand corner (there are 2 Koidus) where you can see the likely tailings dam and the Ebola clinics are named with the red marker. The two nearest Ebola clinics then are the Red Cross Clinic at Kenema and the Medicins Sans Frontieres Clinic at Kailahun.
Kailahun seems about the same size as Koidu, maybe smaller. Kenema is a much larger town.
There is the USAID “Koidu Government hospital”, though we can only guess at the number of beds because once every 10 years it seems that someone gives it around 30 beds. So, we guess it has 30 to 60 beds. Plus, it apparently is not equipped for highly infectious Ebola. The “government hospital” was provided by USAID and some beds donated by the UN, more recently. It was NOT rebuilt by the mining company! Why should Beny Steinmetz do it when the US taxpayer will do it for him? And who does everyone hate? Not Beny Steinmetz but the US government. Who provided the tiny hospital? The US gov, not Beny Steinmetz!
“The U.S. Government spent $579,765 rehabilitating Koidu Government Hospital. Its implementing partners were PREMIER URGENCE, a French non-governmental and non-profit organization, and the people of Koidu itself.” http://freetown.usembassy.gov/pr082703c.html
(“A GREAT DAY FOR KONO: KOIDU GOVERNMENT HOSPITAL RENOVATED AND KONO PEACE DIAMOND ALLIANCE LAUNCHED, August 27, 2003“) Note that there are two places called Koidu, but the one with the hospital seems to be the one near the mine.
Not surprisingly, all has not been peace and love between mining companies and workers. The US gov reports: “In April police reportedly fired on striking workers at the African Minerals Ltd establishment in Tonkolili District, resulting in one death and a number of injuries. In December police officers opened fire on protesters at the Octea diamond mine in Koidu Town, Kono District, during a workers’ strike. Two individuals unaffiliated with the mine were killed, but at year’s end details of the incident remained unclear, and police had not initiated an investigation into the shootings “http://state.gov/md204163.htm “BUREAU OF DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND LABOR, 2012 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Report, April 19, 2013”
“The Koidu Kimberlite Project mining lease, located within the Tankoro Chiefdom of the Kono District, measures approximately 4.9 km2…. The project is expected to increase production from the two open pits from about 10,000 carats per month currently to an average of 45,000 carats per month from 2012 to 2015, tapering off as production from underground comes on line and the operation is maintained at 100,000 tonnes processed per month.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koidu_Holdings
Residence Geneva, Switzerland
Net worth US$ 3.5 billion (June 2014)
Beny Steinmetz (born 1956) is an Israeli businessman, with an extensive portfolio in diamond-mining, engineering and real estate.
Beny Steinmetz was born in Netanya, Israel in 1956, the fourth child of Rubin Steinmetz. He inherited the Geneva-based Steinmetz Diamond Group from his father.
Beny Steinmetz Group Resources
Steinmetz along with his brother Daniel founded what subsequently became known as Beny Steinmetz Group Resources (BSGR). Beny currently occupies an advisory role to the company’s Board of Directors.In March 2014, it was reported by Swiss daily ”Le Temps” that Beny Steinmetz had sold shares in the Steinmetz Diamond Group (SDG) to his brother, Daniel.
BSGR in Guinea controversy
In December 2008, a three year exploration permit for Simandou Blocks 1 & 2, in The Republic of Guinea, was awarded to BSGR Guinea, after the government of Guinea, under its then president, General Lansana Conté, ordered that it be relinquished by its previous holder, the British-Australian multinational mining company Rio Tinto Group. Conté signed over the rights to mine the northern half of Simandou, days before he died, to Steinmetz for $160 million. Steinmetz then soon sold a 51% share on to Vale for $2.5 billion.
Koidu Holdings, which formerly operated as a joint venture, has been wholly owned by the BSGR company since 2007. In 1997, he founded STI Ventures NV, a venture capital firm that invests in start-up companies in Israel. In 1999, he was the owner of Tucows. BSGR and another investment firm, IMR, also control Cunico. A now-defunct company, of which he was a founder and shareholder, Nikanor Plc, listed in London, was acquired by Katanga Mining in 2008. With his company called Scorpio, he owns real estate in Kazakhstan, Russia, and Eastern Europe.
The U.S. Justice Department and the FBI have been investigating BSGR’s acquisition of the rights to extract half of the iron ore deposits at Simandou, Guinea, due to concerns about corruption and bribery. In April 2014 the Guinean government announced that it had “precise and coherent evidence” that BSGR had obtained the Simandou mining rights by paying bribes to the wife of then president Lansana Conté in 2008, and that the rights would be stripped from BSGR and it’s partner Vale S.A.. Rio Tinto then filed suit against Steinmetz, BSGR and Vale alleging that they had devised a RICO scheme to steal “Rio Tinto’s valuable mining rights”.
Other business ventures
He is also an investor of Gabriel Resources Ltd.
The March 2011 issue of Forbes magazine estimated his personal wealth at US$6 billion. As of March 2011, he was the second richest person in Israel, before Sammy Ofer died in June 2011. According to Forbes in June 2014, Steinmetz is the sixth richest Israeli in the world with a net worth of $3.5 billion.
Steinmetz lives in Geneva, Switzerland.He is married with four children. With his wife, he oversees the Beny & Agnes Steinmetz Foundation, which donates to schools, hospitals, army units and the arts in Israel.He also holds French citizenship and describes himself as an “international Israeli.”” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beny_Steinmetz (Wikipedia References at bottom of this post)
References – Additional Reading
“Mrs. Betty Bassie
Senior Teacher United Methodist Church Girls School, Koidu http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=691
“The New Citizen Tuesday 6th April 2004, Volume 8 No. 53
By Sylvester T. Bangah http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=691
“Kimberlite Blast Lands 3 in Hospital (Standard Times, March 16, 2004)” By Saidu Kamara http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=691
“Former adviser to Beny Steinmetz’s mining firm changes plea to guilty
Frederic Cilins admits obstructing investigation into allegations Guinean officials were bribed into awarding mining rights”, Simon Goodley, theguardian.com, Tuesday 11 March 2014 15.27 GMT http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/mar/11/former-adviser-to-beny-steinmetz-mining-firm-frederic-cilins
“Mining company at centre of fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone goes bust
British-based London Mining has been central to efforts to tackle Ebola, helping build a 130-bed treatment centre near Lunsar“, by Rupert Neate
The Guardian, Thursday 16 October 2014 20.22 BST http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/16/london-mining-fight-ebola-sierra-leone-goes-bust
“The tycoon, the dictator’s wife and the $2.5bn Guinea mining deal
FBI investigating Beny Steinmetz’s company BSGR after lucrative deal to extract iron ore from Simandou mountain range, by Ian Cobain, and Afua Hirsch in Conakry, Guinea The Guardian, Tuesday 30 July 2013 http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/30/africa-guinea-mining-bsgr-steinmetz
“Curfew in Sierra Leone town after rioting, shooting over Ebola case Posted:Tue, 21 Oct 2014 19:20:44 GMT
FREETOWN (Reuters) – Authorities in Sierra Leone imposed a curfew in the eastern town of Koidu on Tuesday after a dispute between youth and police over a suspected case of Ebola degenerated into gunfire and rioting, officials said. http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/healthNews/~3/YAop1hOatxw/story01.htm
On August 23rd, The Sunday Times reported, regarding Beny Steinmetz, who they call an “Israeli mining tycoon”: “Diamond miner seeks loan as FBI and ebola loom”
Wikipedia article references:
1. Forbes 2010
2. Michael Rochvarger, ‘Hapoalim confronts Beny Steinmetz’, in Haaretz, 13.05.10 
3. BSG Resources Limited About Retrieved 2012-12-15
4. Sherwood, Harriet. “Beny Steinmetz: Israeli diamond dealer who likes to keep a low profile”. The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
5. Swiss Newspaper Reports Beny Steinmetz Sells Interest In Diamond Business, Jewish Business News, Mar 30th, 2014
6. “Guinea to strip Beny Steinmetz company of mining concessions”. The Guardian. 9 April 14. Check date values in: |date= (help)
7. Bate Felix, ‘Rio says reaches accord with Guinea over Simandou’, Reuters, Apr 22  Retrieved 2012-12-15
8. “Rio Ordered to Give Half of Guinea Concession to BSG (Update2)”. Bloomberg. 11 December 2008.
9. “Buried Secrets: How an Israeli billionaire wrested control of one of Africa’s biggest prizes” by Patrick Radden Keefe. The New Yorker, 8 July 2013
10. “Guinea and its iron ore: Let the people benefit, for once”. The Economist. June 7, 2014.
11. Koidu Holdings Company History Retrieved 2012-12-15
12. Joan Baxter, Dust from our eyes: an unblinkered look at Africa, Wolsak and Wynn Publishers Ltd., 2008, p. 226 
13. STI Ventures NV BusinessWeek
14. ISLA, Volume 54, Issue 12, Oakland, California: Information Services on Latin America, 1999, p. 7379 
15. “History”. Katanga Mining. Retrieved 2012-02-20.
16. “FBI arrest agent over bribery cover up claim in battle over $10bn mountain”, The Guardian, 16 April 2013
17. “The corruption deal of the century: How Guinea lost billions of pounds in Simandou mining licensing”, The Independent, 17 June 2013
19. Ian Cobain; Juliette Garside; Anne Penketh (9 April 2014). “Guinea to strip Beny Steinmetz company of mining concessions”. The Guardian. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
20. Cobain, Ian (1 May 2014). “Rio Tinto sues Israeli billionaire Benny Steinmetz”. The Guardian. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
21. “Steinmetz unit invests in Gabriel Resources”. Mining Weekly. 12 November 2009.
23. ‘Forbes Rich List – ‘The World’s Billionaires 2011′ – Beny Steinmetz’
23. ‘Sammy Ofer tops Israelis in ‘Forbes’ billionaires list’, in The Jerusalem Post, 03/10/2011
24. “Beny Steinmetz”. Forbes. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
25. “Beny Steinmetz: Israeli diamond dealer who likes to keep a low profile”. The Guardian. 29 July 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beny_Steinmetz (Emphasis added. Article accessed ca 22 Oct. 2014)