By Foday Moriba Conteh
During a well-attended handing over ceremony held on Friday 4th August, 2023 at the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources Office at Youyi Building on Brookfield’s in Freetown, the out-gone Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources Timothy M. Kabba has officially handed over to the new Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources Julius Mattai.
Present at the ceremony were the out-gone Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources Timothy M. Kabba, the new Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources Julius Mattai, staff of the National Minerals Agency, the staff of Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources and the media.
In his handing over address, the out-gone Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Timothy M. Kabba said that the President Julius Maada Bio in his 2018 Manifesto among other things promised to transform the country’s mining sector to become a key driver to the country’s economic growth and development, adding that the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources and the National Mineral Agency have been spare heading the transforming drive.
He said that since his appointment as Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources in July 2020 he has had the privilege of overseeing the country’s most critical sector, noting that the sector accounts about 90% of the country’s export and 20% of the fiscal revenue of the country.
Timothy M. Kabba stated that throughout his effective management of oversight of the mining sector and despite the disruptions and challenges to the sector brought on by the global economic difficulties as a result of COVID-19 Pandemic and the Ukraine and Russian War the country is now witnessing an expansion in mining activities and its contribution to national development.
He noted that the Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources and the National Mineral Agency has made significant progress in promoting the mineral sector which includes the completion and launch of the Countrywide Airborne Geophysical Survey, granting of numbers of licenses and the enactment of the Mines and Mineral Acts 2022 and the National Mineral Agency Acts 2022.
The Out gone Minister said the handing over note covers from August 3rd2020 to March 31st 2023 which happens to be his effective tenure as Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, adding that his tenure came to be tragic halt after his involvement in a car crass of which his den deputy was appointed to act as Minister. He however, informed the gathering that for the period of April, 12th to July 10th 2023 the acting Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources Ann-Marie Harding, submitted an account of her stewardship which he said is added to his handing over note.
Underscoring some of the key changes in the new Mines and Mineral Act 2022, the out-gone Minister said the institutional changes are geared towards clarifying policy formulation and oversight functions of the Ministry and the regulatory functions performed by the NMA.
He said that transparency assurance, Gender and Social protection provisions were introduced, adding that government of Sierra Leone to acquire 10% interest on new companies registered to operate in the mining sector after the enactment of the act.
He informed the gathering that in 2023 68 billion Old Leones was paid by two mining companies which includes Marampa Mines paid 38 billion Old Leones and Leone Rock Mining Company paid 20 billion Old Leones to the chiefdoms affected by the operations of these two mining companies.
He said that mining companies continue to pay surface rent to land owners across the country, stating that in 2018 it was recorded that about 12 billion Leones was paid to communities, in 2019 about 13.8 billion Leones was paid, in 2020 about 13.9 billion Leones and in 2022 over 15 billion Leones paid to land owners.
These and many other achievements were highlighted by the out-gone minister during his tenure as Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources including challenges and recommendations.
On his part, the New Minister New Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources Julius Mattai, expressed appreciation to the outgone Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources Timothy M. Kabba for his outstanding leadership as Minister of Mines.
He said that having serve as the Director General of the National Mineral Agency it pleased his Excellency to appoint him as Minister of Mines and Mineral resources of which he expressed appreciation to His Excellency Julius Maada Bio for giving him another opportunity to serve in his government.
Julius Mattai said that there is continuity in leadership of which he said the foundation has been laid and he will continue in that regards. He said that he is not new in the mining sector and with the wealth of knowledge he has acquired over the years in the mining sector will contribute towards the development of the sector during his tenure as Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources.
He said that the mineral sector is a very critical sector and to be given the opportunity to provide stewardship over the mining sector that is supposed to benefit the people of Sierra Leone comes with a big challenge that also comes with opportunities, adding that he is with the strong conviction that with him as the Minister of Mines together with stakeholders can work with some amount of dedication, passion, transparency, accountability and non-partisan way there will be more achievement within the sector.
The Minister called on staff of the Ministry and all other stakeholders to throw their fullest support to his leadership at the Ministry in order to achieve their mandate and contribute towards the development of the mining sector.
Giving the vote of thanks, the Assistant secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources, Marvel Bassie (Mrs) applauded the out-gone Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources Timothy M. Kabba for what she described as outstanding leadership and dedication during his tenure as Minister at the Ministry.
She also used the opportunity to welcome the newly appointed Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources Julius Mattai to the ministry and on behalf of the staff of the ministry pledge their support to him.