By Foday Moriba Conteh
The Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Hon. Foday Rado Yokie, during the Ministry of Information and Communications weekly press briefing on Thursday 30th January 2020 at Youyi Building in Freetown assured Sierra Leoneans that as a Ministry they are not scaring investors away but they are only revisiting some Mining Licenses Agreements.
In his statement the Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Hon. Foday Rado Yokie, said when he took up his appointment, he vowed to review all mining contracts in the country and assured the people of Sierra Leone, whom he said have endured protracted suffering for too long that under his watch mining activities would be safeguarded and ultimately revamped to be very beneficial to all Sierra Leoneans. He noted that they are not scaring away investors but they are only reviewing the existing mining agreements and the Mines and Minerals Act of 2009 which in his view the people of Sierra Leone are not benefiting from as expected.
He noted that a week from now the Ministry will be undertaking nationwide consultations with a view to ensuring that the amended Act becomes a people’s document as the country has been losing millions of dollars in royalties and taxes to mining companies over the years, money that should be spent on tackling poverty in the country.
“I need to change that narrative by renegotiating a better deal for the people of Sierra Leone, as it is a sacred obligation owed to the people of Sierra Leone,” the Minister underscored.
He also used the opportunity to inform all Sierra Leoneans that a social media post in circulation stating that SL Government lost the case against Shandong and Sierra Mining companies in an international tribunal and were therefore fined $800 million is totally false and misleading, adding that the Government will continue to defend the people of Sierra Leone in a transparent, open and rule of law-based system they deserve.
He assured all Sierra Leoneans, the International Community that there is no final judgment against the Republic of Sierra Leone in any international tribunal or court and therefore appealed to members of the public to respect the legal process and refrain from publishing news that are untrue and adverse to the interest of the State.
Director General of the National Minerals Agency (NMA) Julius Daniel Mattia who was also in attendance disclosed that for the past years the country had not been benefiting from its mineral resources adding that it is against such a backdrop that the Ministry of Mines decided to revisit some Mining License Agreements in order for the country to start benefiting from the wealth of its minerals.
He noted that National Minerals Agency with support from partners has conducted a nationwide Airborne Geophysical Survey geared towards providing the country with reliable geo-data, which will help determine the mineralization of Sierra Leone in the most comprehensive way ever and put the country on sound footing to bargain from a position of strength with potential investors, and hence, optimize the benefits of exploration and exploitation of our mineral wealth.
He added that the contribution that revenue from the mining sector is making to the country’s GDP should increase by 100 per cent by the end of 2023, adding that investors are very willing to come into the country and invest in the mining industry. He said over the last few years fifteen large scale mining licenses have been issued with licenses and that four operational mines are up and running.
He said that there were only two small scale mining companies but currently there are thirteen, noting that a license concession was granted to Kingo Mining Company along with three others. He further assured Sierra Leoneans that currently they are registering mining companies and that by the end of this year the mining sector will provide over 16,000 jobs.
He said in 2019, 274 Mines Monitors were employed and they have been deployed all over the country to monitor and make sure the mining companies do what they are supposed to do for the country to realize greater profits from the sector, that the best and largest Rutile in the world is in Sierra Leone and that Sierra Leone supplies 30 percent of the world’s natural Rutile.
He advised all those who are engaged in defrauding investors to refrain from that as they are working with other stakeholders responsible to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book.