The managing director of CEMMAT, Andrew Keili whose company was engaged by Branch Energy to undertake an environmental impact assessment, has said their survey recommended interim blasting of Kimberlite by Koidu Holdings.
Led in evidence by Koidu Holdings’ lawyer Berthan Macauley yesterday at the Jenkins-Johnston commission of inquiry, Andrew Keili read the base line assessment that was submitted to the ministry of Mines in July 11 and 14, 2003 and the letter from the national environment protection board on August 6, 2003 replying for a request of waiver of environmental impact assessment.
Mr Keili told the commission that with the needs assessment done by his company on Koidu Holdings, he highlighted certain sections of the report done on Koidu Holdings and recommendations on resettlement.
He said the preparation of the statement was to clarify issues relating to recommendations, resettlement and community development.
“I have also alluded to problems with of environmental governance in Sierra Leone and when we did the environmental impact assessment (EIA) we did it in accordance with government’s legislation environmental protection Act 2000 and the Mines and Minerals Act 1994 but we exceeded national standards because we did it up to IFC environmental guidelines as credibly needed in legal guarantee,” he said
He disclosed that there were no national environmental guidelines and that their report covered the EIA, environmental management, community development, resettlement and public consultation. Clarifying certain issues on recommendations he explained that, “when you draw up an environmental management plan in terms of technical issues which are very definite and measurable but when you do the community development action plan and the resettlement action plan, these are social issues which involve some elements of consultations with the community. So what we provide is not sacrosanct, it is a guideline in terms of what you do for the community.”
In terms of resettlement, he explained that it was recognized that blasting could take place while resettlement was taking place because Koidu Holdings wanted to start mining and recommended means of mitigating against that. “I will like to state that there is no resettlement framework for Sierra Leone so basically what we were doing was following the national registration which was scanty but followed legal guidelines for displaced persons to be assisted in their efforts to improving their livelihood and standard of living,” he stated.
Asked by the commission about the recognition of the interim blasting measures by Koidu Holdings before the people were resettled and for how long he anticipated the interim blasting, he retorted: “Until the houses within the blasting area are relocated and we had expected that the company to reach proper agreement with the people for their houses to be relocated .”