The Association of Journalists on Mining and Extractives (AJME), a component of the Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD), has ended a two-day capacity building workshop on mining and extractives sector at the Gender Grassroots Empowerment Movement (GGEM) hall in Freetown.
Giving lectures on the Kimberly Process (KP) and the socio-economic importance of mining in Sierra Leone Abu Brima, the director of NMJD, said “Kimberly process certification scheme is a United Nations mandated process involving governments, the diamond industry and non governmental organizations which had developed an international certification system for rough diamonds”.
The KP is a joint government, industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds- rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments, said Abu Brima. He disclosed that the trade in these illicit stones had fuelled decades of devastating conflicts in countries such as Angola, Cote d’ Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone. Lecturing on mining and the environment with special reference to environmental impacts assessment Andrew Keili, the managing director of Cemmats, noted that diamonds, rutile, bauxite, gold, iron ore platinum, chromite lignite, clays, and base metals were potential resources in Sierra Leone. The managing director noted that mining contributed to GDP (20%) and registered exports (90%) throughout most of the 1990s. Fiscal revenues, he said, peaked at about 8% of the GDP in 1990 and declined steadily to less than two percent after the closure of the two large-scale mines in 1995. Mr Keili stated that during the 1990s, mining and quarrying provided livelihoods for over 250,000 people, and employed about 14 percent of the total labour force, directly or indirectly. Explaining about the mining and environmental sectors problems, he said there were no clear environmental standards with stable and predictable environmental criteria and procedures set by the government.
He maintained that, “Sierra Leone is faced with the problem of environmental degradation, arising mainly from demographic, economic and social pressures”.