By Amin Kef Sesay -15 August 2019
The new Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Hon. Foday Rado Yokie and the National Minerals Agency are at loggerheads with the Sierra Leone Mining Company; following what the government refers to as the company’s refusal to answer questions about the value of its iron ore production and non-payment of royalties and taxes.
According to the reformed minded Minister of Mines, the government is losing hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties and taxes, through evasion by several mining companies.
Whilst many Sierra Leoneans commend the government for finally getting round to the business of extracting maximum benefit from the mining sector for development purposes, SL Mining Company maintains that Minister Yokie’s action is illegal and contravenes the contract that the company signed with GoSL. Minister Yokie says he is ready to respond to any legal action that SL Mining contemplates.
The company has a license from the Sierra Leone Government to mine high grade iron ore in Marampa Chiefdom. Quite recently, Hon. Foday Rado Yokie who served in the House of Parliament for two terms and was a member of the Mines and Minerals Committee, determined to ensure that under the New Direction dispensation, the country reaps maximum financial benefits from its most valuable mineral resources decided to scrutinize SL Mining’s contract with regards to compliance with its terms and conditions.
SL Mining Company has been at pains to contest Minister Rado Yokie’s official demand that SL Mining provides its latest financial statement, and that as par the agreement reached with the Government in 2017, it makes good on the part payment it agreed to do in resuming its operations which it suspended in 2015.
Minister Rado Yokie’s probe of SL Mining and Shandong Mining that took over African Minerals Limited Ferengbeya mines, is in line with the government of president Julius Maada Bio warning to mining companies not to expect business as usual, wherein due diligence, accountability and fiduciary responsibility are sacrificed by those in power for contract kickbacks.
This press since the brouhaha between the Hon. Minister of Mines and NMA and SL Mining has done background investigation into the matter. These are the facts that emerged:
SL Mining Company acquired the license that was held by Timis Mining illegally with the connivance of certain highly place members of the former APC government who the investigation clearly showed have shares in SL Mining Company.
The residents of Lunsar where SL Mining Company’s mine is located told this press that SL Mining Company is in utter violation of both its Corporate Social Responsibilities to the community, as well as disrespectful of the country’s Local Content Policy in terms of employment.
In which regard, Minister Yokie noted that for example, Sierra Rutile in contravention of the LCP employs South Africans as drivers and for other jobs for which there are available to qualified Sierra Leoneans.
Meanwhile, the Mines Ministry and NMA are assiduously reviewing all mining contracts in the country to ensure they are fit for purpose and yield the highest returns and benefit for the people of Sierra Leone.
Investigations into the SL Mining Company saga continues…