By Mohamed Sheriff
Sierra Leone is endowed with huge mineral deposits. According to report, the mining sector contributes about 24% to GDP and over 80% export earnings. However, it contributes well below its potential, on average of 15% of total revenue. Corruption in the mining industry was institutionalized creating such a negative effect.
For prudent management of the country’s mineral resources , President Julius Maada Bio in June last year, appointed Hon. Foday Rado Yokie, to support the transformational drive with his knowledge in the mining sector, which many people considered uncontestable at local and international arena to change the narratives.
Upon assuming office in July 1st last year, from Dr. Morie Manyeh, the Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources ,Hon. Foday Rado Yokie, commits to implement President Bio’s New Direction People’s Manifesto in 2018 “ Improving the Management of Mineral Resources” in the country.
Giving an overview about his achievements for the past one year, the Minister thanked the President Dr. Julius Maada Bio for the trust and confidence he has imposed in him to improve on the Management of the country’s Mineral Resources.
He expressed satisfaction with the strides taken so far to continue with reforms in the sector that will attract much-needed investments to protect and properly manage the country’s natural resources.
He pointed out that when he was a Member of Parliament he condoned most of the bad negations relating to the ratifications, agreements or contracts between the Government and the Mining Companies, noting that most of them were not in the best interest of the country.
He said immediately when he took over he instituted radical approaches to savage the silo situation to enhance accountability and transparency for effective operations of the Ministry and the National Minerals Agency (NMA).
Upon assuming office the licenses of two mining companies were cancelled, Shandon and SL Mining for not adhering to the Mines and Minerals Act of 2009.
“In collaboration with the National Minerals Agency (NMA), we have reviewed standard operating procedures and agreements between mineral rights holders and local communities. The Ministry is reviewing the Mines and Minerals Act of 2009. The new Act will make strong provision for community benefits, Artisanal Mining Area development scheme, value addition and other linkages to the mining sector,” he disclosed.
The Minister maintained that, Cabinet has asked the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to draft a bill to review the Mines and Minerals Act of 2009 and the Ministry with its partners have done a national consultation with stakeholders in the mining sector to validate the draft document nationwide.
The draft bill, the Minister said, is expected to be finalized by the AG’s office within the next one week for Cabinet final validation before taken to Parliament for enactment.
The new Act, according to the Minister, will generate more revenue for the Government and change the lives of people especially those who are within the mining communities.
The Mines Minister further pointed out that currently, about six mining companies are in operation in the country and more are in the pipeline with over one hundred applicants awaiting for final approvals.
He thanked President Bio for his initiative to undertake the first ever geophysical survey that will provide the position of strength for Government to negotiate with multilateral companies regarding investments in the mining sector, pointing out that 50% of the survey data is now interpreted.
He said more investors in the mining sector around the world are poised to come to invest in Serra Leone. He however, called on all stakeholders and citizens to support the Government’s response efforts to end the coronavirus in the country, to reopen the mining sector in order to boost the country’s economy.
The Mines Minister assured the President and the citizens of Sierra Leone of the Ministry’s unflinching support to enhance reforms in the mining sector at all times.