Mines Ministry, NMA Engage Stakeholders in Port Loko on Cancellation of Sierramin’s License

By Amin Kef Sesay

The Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources and the National Minerals Agency (NMA) have on the 8th December 2021engaged stakeholders, especially landowners, in Marampa Chiefdom, Lunsar, in the Port Loko District, with the avowed objective of updating them about a recent  decision taken related to a mining company that is operating  within the district.

Present during the meeting, which took place at the Court Barray of the Paramount Chief of Marampa Chiefdom, Koblo Queen 11, in Lunsar, were the Paramount Chief himself, local authorities of chiefdoms and Sections in the district, the Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources, Emmanuel M. Sandi, the NMA Director of Community Affairs, Ibrahim Satti Kamara, NMA Regional Representative,  Isaac Kallon, NMA Communications Officer, Jariatu Samura, the Acting Inspector General of Police North-West Region, AIG Mustapha Kamara, members of the Fourth Estate and some residents of the district.

In his statement, the Paramount Chief of Marampa Chiefdom, Koblo Queen 11, thanked officials of the Ministry of Mines and the National Minerals Agency for regulating the mining sector in the country adding that with the reactivation of the mines in that part of the country majority of the residents of the district are benefitting in one way or the other.  He continued that he was informed that the two institutions want to engage landowners of the district stating how they are eager to hear from them.

On his part, the NMA Director of Community Affairs, Satti Kamara, welcomed all for attending what he said would be a brief but very significant meeting. He continued that the purpose of calling them together is to update them on the current status of the mining concession and license that were issued by the Government to a certain mining company, Sierramin Bauxite Company, through the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources.

“ According to provisions of the Mines and Minerals Act of 2009, the Government of Sierra Leone has cancelled the Mining Licence of Sierramin Bauxite (SL) Limited (ML 1/2016), effective 14th September 2021 and their Exploration Licences (EL 16/2014 and EL 18/2014), effective 4th November 2021,” he intimated.

He continued that, as an institution, the National Minerals Agency has received numerous complaints about how the company is not doing certain things right, in other words not honouring its obligations, underscoring that besides, most of the issues complained about have remained unresolved despite the fact that the Mines Ministry had been issuing warnings .

Satti maintained that securing a mining license goes with fulfilling certain obligations lamenting that it is indeed no secret that Sierramin Bauxite Company has failed to live up to expectation and therefore the Government had no option but to cancel the license it granted the company to undertake bauxite mining in that part of the country.

“I am categorically informing you of this new development because the Government is against rumour mongering and already we have seen certain misleading news publication which is why we decided to come and give you the facts,” he intimated the gathering but was quick to state that at this material moment no other company has been granted a licence as a way of replacement maintaining that though certain entities or companies have expressed interest the Government is currently assessing them to determine the most competent among them to be granted a license.

He emphatically pointed out that Government will no longer tolerate a company to secure a license and then go out to look for funds to commence the mining operation but rather would prefer any credible company that has the wherewithal to go into full operation immediately after securing such a license.

“When the time reaches when a company will be identified we will come again and inform you and this will not take long as Government needs revenue and is also concerned about your welfare,” he told those present in the meeting.

Emmanuel Sandy, the Deputy Secretary in the Mines Ministry, stated that the minerals of this country must benefit the people of Sierra Leone. He said the decision they arrived at was an informed one underscoring that when it comes to issues that have to do with national development actions taken must be pro-active and there must be no sympathy.

He said in the wake of the cancellation of the mining license of Sierramin Bauxite Company, there are assets on the ground to be protected. Emmanuel said in their estimation, at this material time the onus of protecting those assets lie in the hands of the Paramount Chief and the Police. Mentioning the rails and other assets, he appealed for their maximum protection against theft and vandalization noting that though it may seemingly look tough at the moment he is confident that better days are soon to come for residents of the district. “It will be counter- productive any time a new company or player enters the sector it has to start with mobilization of its equipment,” he stated.

The Mines Ministry Development Secretary assured all present that no clandestine arrangement has been made with the Paramount Chief relating to any new company or him ( Paramount Chirf) receiving any form of benefit from any new company as some may be tempted to think maintaining that they will do everything transparently.

PC Koblo Queen assured the Development Secretary and all present of his unflinching cooperation to ensure those assets are protected while the AIG of North-West Region stated that the Police will always succeed in protecting life and properties through the cooperation of the residents. He prayed that any new company that will take over from Sierramin must come up with good initiatives in order to avert any future unforeseen and untoward protest.

The Regent Chief of Maforki Chiefdom, Abass Koroma, disclosed that Sierramin Bauxite Company owes three hundred and ninety-four (394) employees nine months salaries. He continued that despites promises of paying the aggrieved employees the company has renege further revealing  that the company at one point in time secured a piece of land to be developed for their use and for which they promised to be paying annual rent, did so only once and failed to continue. “SL Mining has also expressed interest over that land and we are now calling on you to help us resolve this impasse,” he made a plea.

In his response, Satti said cancellation of the company’s mining license does not mean negating its obligations it owes to others.

The Deputy Secretary said he will suggest Government engages the Management of Sierramin Company to see how they could pay the workers.

One resident revealed how Sierramin dug some wide pits which he considers pose serious danger to lives and asked what should be done with the pits to which Satti stated that they will share the information with the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to take necessary action.

Another resident introduced a new security agency in the district, known as the Gorilla Security Agency appealing for the entity to be considered in any future arrangement for the provision of security services.

Climaxing the engagement was the giving of the vote of thanks by a section female authority of Marampa Chiefdom.


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