As part of their corporate social responsibility as stipulated by the Mines and Minerals Act of 2009, the Nimini Mining Limited, through the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources on Saturday, paid the sum total of Le 172m (one hundred and seventy two million Leones) as surface rent to Nimikoro and Nimiyema Chiefdom in Kono district.
The programme was well attended by representatives from the Mines Ministry headed by the Deputy Minister of Mines, Abdul Ignosis Koroma, Deputy Minister of Local Government Hadiru Kalokoh, senior district officer, Paramount Chiefs from both chiefdom and representation from Nimini Mining group.
Nimikoro chiefdom received Le 146m (one hundred and forty six million Leones) whilst Nimiyema received Le 26m which is fifteen percent as stipulated in their agreement(twenty six million Leones), as according to section 34 of the Mines and Minerals Act of 2009 which makes provision for the distribution of the money, fifty percent of the said money is for the land owners, fifteen percent to the Paramount Chief, fifteen percent to the District Council for the development of the district, ten percent to Chairman District council and ten percent for constituency development which will be given to the Member of Parliament in the respected constituency, according to the Deputy Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources Abdul Ignosis Koroma.
He maintained that when President Koroma took office, he asked for the mining laws of the country to be replaced in the interest of the local people living within the mining company and in the interest of the country, explaining that the payment is a manifestation and reality of what the laws says.
The company has not yet started the mining activity, as they have just been given license and that they are on exploration, after which they will do feasibility studies and then build the mining site which will take a long time, but as stipulated by the laws of the country, they have started paying their surface rent, which is part of their corporate social responsibilities according to him.
“Two things that made me happy are the peace and relationship that the community have with the mining company, as the list of employees that was read by the mining company’s representative was about sixty to seventy percent dominated by Sierra Leoneans, which is welcome news for the country” he recalled, explaining that the youths in the country are paramount in the employment scheme, and if they train Sierra Leoneans, it will benefit the country directly, as the youths are number one in the agenda for prosperity.
Deputy Minister of Local Government, Hadiru Kalokoh, states that whatever that is given to the chiefdom, will go down well for the benefit of the people within the chiefdom, as they have gone to different places to do payments but that they hardly see legacies of such money as they also emphasis on the point that whatever is given to the chiefdom, should be reflected in the chiefdom as a way of change on the lives of the people.
According to him, he hopes the people especially the landowners, will not just eat the money that is given to them but they should use it to develop their lives including their children, explaining that sometime ago , he went to launch a programme titled ‘life after diamonds’, as in most parts of the country they were saying that the diamonds failed them but “ I believe that it is the people that failed the diamonds” explaining that if the people were using the monies that were being paid for the diamonds, they would not have failed.
He encouraged the landowners to make good use of the money that will be paid to them, as they should realize that they were mere custodians of the land, as their children will in the future question them about what they did with the money paid for the land.
Representing the Nimini Mining Limited, Alastair Gallaugher, exploration manager, said his company was awarded a large-scale mining licence on November 2012 which was an enormous achievement for the company that is still in exploration stages, but the license was a milestone in the path of their achievement, explaining that they will continue to build strong lines of communication in an effort to create an increased awareness by the public about the future operations of the company.
He maintained that ‘Nimini Mining strives to see positive growth within the chiefdom due directly to the company’s presence and obligations to the surrounding communities’, as the company implores members of the chiefdom to invest wholly in their partnership, and to make the most of the opportunities that arise from both the surface rent payment as well as community development pursuits.
By Alhaji M. Kamara