The National Advocacy Coalition on Extractives (NACE) has organised a two day seminar on Mining Legislation. The seminar which was convened at Parliament Building Committee Room attracted a large number of attendants particularly Parliamentarians whose involvement in the exercise was an urgent concern to NACE.
Speaking to participants Herbert Mcleod Presidential Adviser on Strategic Mineral Resources and also a member of the Strategic Planning Unit gave a brief background information with regards the Mining Policy in the early 60s in comparism with the recent one enacted by the Government which he said shows a very big gap which cannot be easily filled. He said the mistake done in the past needs not to be repeated as the consequences in effect would badly affect income generation. Mr. McLeod said Sierra Leone has lost a lot due to the lack of experience on mining and extraction. He also touched on environmental degradation and the effect it has on the environment, the people, and the country as a whole.
He said the policy frame on mining in the past was weak and very difficult to interpret by Parliament as they did not have the capacity to go through some of the policies due to so many constrains involved.
The Presidential Adviser praised civil society organizations for endlessly raising concern about bad mining, its policies and also highlighting some of the positive achievements they have made. In the case of the press, McLeod complained that due to so many reasons, had deliberately refused to sufficiently comment on bad mining and the attitudes of the companies. He said the press most of the time fails to understand that they have a role to play on educating the masses.
Dr. Thomas Akabzaa in his statement said the essence of mining is to have a direct effect with the growth of the economy of a country. He said the government cannot have a firm grip on mining companies simply because it has thrown its burden such as the building of schools, hospitals, clinics, round the neck of mining companies to address it for them. He therefore called on Parliamentarians to closely monitor the mining policy in order to ensure that it addresses the National development imperative as defined in the policy.
Augustine Niber,a Ghanaian Legal Adviser said the environmental laws does not provide sufficient rights to the ordinary man since the National Constitution and the government in particular support the companies when it come to the matter of interest. He therefore called on Parliament to reform the laws and regulation, giving the Mineral Industry Act a fair, balanced and unbiased principle. Niber also said sufficient compensation must be given to the land owners in order to appease them since nothing absolutely will be left in their possession when the land would have been taken away from them.