Kono is a diamondiferous district and it accounts for a larger percentage of Sierra Leone’s mineral exports. The township of Koidu – the headquarter town of the district – was completely destroyed by rebels during the civil war.
Diamond mining, especially town mining and child mining are said to have been in the increase. There have been several calls from residents of Kono for action to be taken to stop town mining in the township of Kono.
Secretary of the Kono Traders Union – William Sesay told Awoko that, “People find it difficult to farm within Koidu due to this town mining”. His voice was not alone on this issue, as Patrick Tongu of the Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD) in Kono revealed that, the issue of town mining within the city of Koidu has been of a major concern and that, recently the District Coordination Forum instructed the chairman of the district council to bring the issue to the government. “There is an increase in town mining in Kono even though we have raised this issue with the authorities”.
Patrick Tongu said, one notable place that has been destroyed as a result of town mining is Bongalow Sand Area, situated at the back of God’s Assembly Church in Koidu city. “Town mining has largely contributed to the destruction of the township (and) this (will) also have an adverse effect on agriculture in the township. I am afraid, there would be heavy flooding one day in Koidu”, Tongu said.
On the issue of child mining, Tongu said, research recently conducted by NMJD revealed that, children are still being used to mine for diamonds in the district and this, he said has been blamed on poverty. At the moment, he said much has not been done by the authorities to address the problem of child mining. In a village called Yardu, about two miles away from Koidu city, a woman, as well as her child were seen washing gravel in search of diamond. “Mining is the main activity in Kono”, said Marco Kanu in Yardu village but cautioned that, ‘the way it is done within Koidu city must be checked by the authorities”. Felix Foe Foe, recent past deputy mayor in the Koidu New Sembehun City Council told Awoko that, diamond mining has proved to be a curse to the district rather than a blessing. He said, the district of Kono is known for its diamond production but that, this mineral has not contributed to the development of the chiefdom. Tamba Lebbie, a miner told Awoko that, miners are aware of the dangerous effect town mining has but that, they had no other alternative since it was a way to search for a living. Corporate mining undertaken by companies like Koidu Holdings and Kariba in the district is also said to be adversely affecting the township in terms of development. Reports indicate that, their areas of operations are most often not viable for any other farming purposes. The people of Koidu are calling on the authorities concerned to address the issue of town mining. “Government must act now to stop this unplanned mining so as to prevent further disaster”, Felix Foe Foe ex-deputy Mayor of Kono said.