Beautiful family photo. There, we find the ex-minister Arnaud Montebourg, the ex-head of Areva, Anne Lauvergeon, and Edouard Louis-Dreyfus, president of the shipowner of the same name. They surround Romain Girbal and Thibault Launay, the thirty-year-old who came up with this crazy idea to operate a bauxite mine in Guinea. His start-up, Alliance Minière Responsable (AMR), then “turned all Paris”, headline the echoes in 2016. But today, the nugget smells like sulfur. Production, which exceeded 14 million tonnes a year, is at a standstill and his “godfather” Arnaud Montebourg doesn’t want to hear about it anymore. Worse still, the National Treasury Attorney’s Office opened an investigation into suspected corruption and tax evasion. And according to our information, Romain Girbal was even heard last year by the gendarmes in another case related to Corsica’s organized crime.
The adventure started well. In the early 2010s, the exploration of bauxite, the main ore used in the manufacture of aluminum, was booming in Guinea. Romain Girbal knows the country well. His father, a former policeman, was posted to the French embassy in Conakry. His contacts help him get a search permission. To finance the preliminary studies, with their friend Thibault Launay, they are trying to set up a round table. Fresh out of the Ministry of Productive Recovery, Arnaud Montebourg agrees to lend them a hand as long as they establish their headquarters in France and develop a social and environmental approach. This is the “responsible mine”.
The Made in France singer boards his investment banker friend Arié Flack. Something to reassure big names in French capitalism like Louis Dreyfus Armateurs, who want to take care of logistics. On the nerve, entrepreneurs also look for the founder of Free, Xavier Niel, who puts 250,000 euros. The latter tells us that he has never met the start-ups he is no longer aware of. On the other hand, Anne Lauvergeon, who is trying to recover after the Areva disaster (see box), is heavily involved in the project.