The Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources, in collaboration with the Presidential Task Force, OSIWA, Christian Aid and stake holders in the mining sector have commenced the review of all Mining Rights on core Minerals Policy to benefit the people of Sierra Leone, at the Hill Valley Hotel, Signal Hill Road in Freetown.
The overriding objective of the review is for minerals to provide optimal benefits to the country so as to generate a stream of benefits to succeeding generations; exploitation of minerals to be done transparently and equitably to minimize damage to the environment.
The review would also ensure that the laws and regulations governing the mineral industry in Sierra Leone are fair, balanced and unambiguous and that they would be applied in a consistent and transparent manner in compliance with International Trading Protocols.
The review would also critically look into all forms of mining policies whether large, small or artisanal, to be subjected to the same requirement in respect of licensing safety, health and the environment; to initiate measures that would attract inward investment through the development of progressive and predictable tax and fee structures.
Delivering the opening remarks at the stake holder’s workshop, the Presidential Affairs Minister, Alpha Kanu expressed thanks and appreciation to Government partners in the mining sector and highlighted the need for the mining sector to be reviewed as part of the Government’s mission statement to improve on taxes and other revenues which would be amended by legislators for its fullest implementation by Government.
He called on participants to contribute meaningfully to the review as Government would expect businesses to operate within the law and assist in the development of a fair and open trading environment, as the Government would take action against companies operating illegally or unethically within the mineral sector.
The Deputy Minister of Mines, Ignosi Koroma highlighted the core areas of the review which includes the Legal aspect, Contracts and assignment, institutional, Fiscal, Environmental, Social, and the Economic impact of the mining industry towards the rapid development of the country.
He added that the review would create stronger linkages to be developed between the mining sector and other sectors of the economy; to facilitate diversification of the economy in order to minimize the potential impact of external shocks caused by changes in mineral prices and the interest of mining companies would also be considered. Abu Brima, Executive Director of the Network Movement for Justice and Development and a strong advocate of the Campaign for Just mining in Sierra Leone, commended Government and its partners for taking the bold step to review all existing Mining Rights of mining companies in the country for the industry to benefit host communities and also reduce environmental damages. He suggested to the Presidential Task Force to emulate the good practices of Botswana, which had benefited immensely from the mining industry strategic frame work. He also spoke about the need to consider human right related issues during the review. The Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Abubakarr Jalloh noted that Government is committed and determined for an efficient provision and functioning of the physical, social and institutional infrastructures for the mining industry to be a source of domestic capital accumulation to support the sustained growth of the economy. He noted that the country is gifted with abundant minerals as over 2billion tons of bauxite and 1m ounce of gold deposits have been explored and that some companies have already manifested interest in the extraction of the minerals. He also clarified that Botswana is heavily rooted with Diamond and cannot be compared to the meager resources of Sierra Leone.
The Minister promised to implement all the policies under review for the benefit of the country and its people, as best practices and principles would be taken into consideration to revamp the mining industry for the rapid development of the country. Frank Kargbo, a member of the Task Force Team and also one of the workshop facilitators, spoke about the legal aspect of the review and also gave an overview of the workshop. Ken Wright spoke about the Institutional issues, while Mathew Geneasci of the Revenue Watch dealt with the Fiscal issues and Andrew Keili, one of the mining Consultants highlighted the environmental concerns of mining companies.
By Saidu Bah