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Sierra Leone News: NMA cancels 40 mining licenses

The National Mineral Agency (NMA) and the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources has revoked exploration license for an undeveloped nickel project jointly owned by Barrick Gold Corp and London-listed miner Glencore Plc as part of enforcement of a new mining regime.
Eleven license for Kingho Investment Company Limited EL 23/2012 was among 40 licenses cancelled by the government with immediate effect, for failing to meet their statutory obligations consistent with the provision of Section 53 of the Mines and Minerals Act of 2009.
This action is part of ongoing efforts to transform the Minerals Sectors, the Agency is clamping down on illegal Miners and Mineral Right Holders who have not been meeting their financial and other obligations to Government.
“We realized during our monitoring that there were several breaches ranging from financial and work program obligations and others we couldn’t locate their offices” said Ibrahim Satti Kamara, Director of Community Relations, Communications and Public Relations.
Another issue that was flagged during the monitoring was that some of the companies apply for the mining license to increase their profile to do trading on the Stock Market and they use it to get other investors to put money in their business.
Mineral rights Kamara says, goes with responsibility as during the application process they are required to state their interest in mining, their financial and technical capacity and importance of their work program which will detail the sort of work they will do if granted.
These companies he said are expected to go by their work program, including having a presence on the ground within the specific timeframe of three months when licenses have been granted. “We could not even trace some of their offices so we decided that we cannot continue to have these people holding on to our licenses.”
In terms of the licenses issued, it is on a first come first serve basis, which means that when granted that area is being authorized exclusively for that company. “So if they are sitting on it without using it, they are preventing other serious people from accessing it. So we want to free up additional areas for serious people to come in, as we want things to be happening in the sector” said Kamara.
Exploration licenses are issued for a period of nine years, with an initial period of four years and which will be only renewed after the company would have shown serious work done. Moreover, work that would have generated information that is of value to further exploration which the geologists will review, before the license is renewed for another three years and then another two years extension, following the same process.
Questioned about the timeliness of the decision, Kamara replied that it is true that there have been breaches for quite some time now but that they had also previously made recommendations over the years that were not looked into.
“I think with the new thinking around, that it is not business as usual in the sector, we are now seeing all the actors working together to effect the cancelations, which I will say was not exactly the case before now” he said.
The process of cancelation does not rest solely on the NMA. The agency collects information and makes recommendations to the Minerals Advisory Board, who sit on the issue and then recommend to the Minister who now does the cancelation.
The other nineteen companies are Taia (SL) LTD EL 04/2011, Total Global Steel Company Limited EXPL 01/2010, Chuandi International Minerals Company Limited EL 09/2010, Mining and Minerals Ltd EL 01/2011, Universal Gold Mining And Exploration (SL) Ltd EXPL 29/2010 (2 licenses), Chuandi International Minerals Company Limited EL 61/2011, RIMCO Mining Company (SL) Ltd EL 17/2012 (9 Licences), Baomahun Gold Limited EL 60/2012, FAVIC INVESTMENT Company Limited EL 13/2013, Lora Golden Wings (SL) Limited EL 23/2013, Universal Dawnus (SL) Limited EL 06/2014, Trillium International Offshore (SL) Limited ML 6/2014, SMC VENTURE ONE (SL) LIMITED SML 1/2017, ZWELL INVESTMENT COMPANY LIMITED EL 11/2016, Longtiaoshan (SL) Company Limited EL 10/2016, Matrix Exploration & Production Company Limited EL 3/2013, M & S Ventures EL 9/2015, Atlantic Minerals (SL) Limited EL 5/2014, and Shadow Minerals (SL) limited SML 1B/2012 (2 licenses).
By Zainab Iyamide Joaque
Thursday August 02, 2018.

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