The National Minerals Agency (NMA), an agency established by an Act of Parliament in 2012 to promote the development of the minerals sector by effectively and efficiently managing the administration and regulation of mineral rights and trading in Sierra Leone, commenced operation on 1st February 2013.
The Agency was established by the Government of Sierra Leone, with support from the World Bank and DFID, as part of efforts to properly manage and regulate the mining sector, and ensure that Sierra Leoneans derive maximum benefit from their minerals.
It serves as the technical interface between government and the mining sector, and has the responsibility to administer and enforce the Mines and Minerals Act of 2009; advice and make recommendations to the Minister of Mines on improvements in regulations and policy matters relating to the mineral sector; formulate and implement plans and systems for managing the responsible development of the minerals sector; and promote the rights of communities.
It could be recalled that mismanagement of mineral resources to the detriment and deprivation of ordinary Sierra Leoneans was identified as one of the causes of the civil war, and this, coupled with the infamous role of ‘blood diamonds’ in fueling the conflict, led to the perception that minerals are a curse, rather than a blessing, to Sierra Leone.
It is now hoped that with the setting up of the National Minerals Agency, the mining sector will be properly managed and regulated to ensure that Sierra Leoneans enjoy the benefits, particularly as the mineral sector is crucial to the success of the ‘Agenda for Prosperity’.
The principles that underpin the creation of the NMA are built upon best practice in minerals sector governance and public sector reform from around the world.
Similar models have been demonstrated to deliver better- managed minerals sectors in other countries, including a number of African countries.
It is therefore part of the President’s grand strategy to deliver on the ‘Agenda for Prosperity’.
The Director-General of the NMA, Sahr Wonday, has already given assurances of his determination to ensure that the agency succeeds and changes public perception about the minerals sector. Sharing his vision with a cross section of Ministry of Mines officials, Board members and staff of the NMA, at a ceremony marking the formal commencement of work at the NMA office, the Director- General explained that his vision for the NMA is to be an exemplary professional and technical regulatory organization working along with the Ministry of Mineral Resources, in serving the mining sector and its communities, and ensuring optimum revenues for Sierra Leone from its mineral resources in a responsible manner.
The NMA, he went on, will provide effective and efficient licensing and trading regulatory services in a consistent, accountable and transparent manner.
He emphasized that integrity will be a core value of the agency and that there will be zero-tolerance for corruption. He encouraged staff to work hard as a team to ensure that the agency contributes meaningfully to the ‘Agenda for Prosperity’.
Also addressing newly-recruited staff, the Chairman of the NMA Board, Raymond Moshe Roberts, noted that much is expected from the NMA to ensure that government gets maximum revenue from the minerals sector, and that the agency must make a difference in the lives of ordinary Sierra Leoneans. He admonished staff to stay focused and committed to realize the objectives of the agency.
The NMA operates from its offices at 13 Wilkinson Road, and currently has four departments: Mines, Geological Survey, Precious Minerals Trading, and Finance; all manned by competent and experienced professionals in their respective fields.