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Sierra Loene News: $20M extractives sector project launched

The Ministry of Mines with support from World Bank yesterday launched a $20 million USD project, which is the second phase of the Extractive Industries Technical Assistant Project (EITAP 2) at the Miatta Conference Hall in Freetown. The aim of the project is to increase geological knowledge and help strengthening of the mineral sector. During the first phase of the project (2009-2016) the country laid the foundation for improved governance in the mining sector by supporting new legislation, institutions, capacity building and increased transparency which attracted new investments to the sector. Another notable achievement was the creation of the National Minerals Agency (NMA) to regulate the sector and survey institutions. According to the Minister of Mines, Morie Manyeh, from Kono District, addressing issues relating to artisanal mining is particularly close to his heart. The EITAP2 will set out policy principles by which the economic and social contribution of the artisanal mining sector will be effectively captured. “Most Paramount Chiefs/Regent Chiefs present here today are not very confortable with the activities of some exploration license holders/companies,” said PC Sheku A.T. Fasuluku-Sonsiama III, explaining they think operations are not transparent to both the communities and government. According to the Paramount Chief the people and artisanal mining communities will also benefit from improved environmental protection, mitigation of social impacts, attention to the distribution of benefits from mining operation including access to potential employment and public service. “It is estimated 80% of Sierra Leone’s diamonds originate from artisanal mining, mostly in Kono and Kenema districts,” he said, disclosing artisanal mining is recognized to be a poverty-driven enterprise that is conducted using rudimentary tools and ad-hoc mining methodologies. According to the Director General of NMA, Sahr Wonday, the nationwide airborne geophysical survey to highlight areas for further ground investigation is a major component of the EITAP2, which will be followed by nationwide geological and geochemical mapping campaign that will enhance knowledge of the country’s mineral potential. Launching the EITAP2, the Vice President, Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, said good governance and prudent economic management of the extractive sector is vital in determining the country’s development path in the coming decades. “With discoveries of new mineral deposits, increase in the scope and scale of mining operations and the potential for petroleum production both in the medium to long term, it is projected that revenue from the extractive sector could account for as much as 17% of our GDP by 2020,” said the Vice President. VP Juldeh disclosed Cabinet is considering the adoption of a new Sierra Leone Mineral Policy, Artisanal Policy that once adopted will establish a clear framework within which government will manage the extractive sector for optimal benefit of all stakeholders. “The Mines and Mineral Act 2009 will be review to ensure the economic dividend of the country is critical to our development efforts,” he assured, explaining these new policies will guide government to better regulate the extractive sector to ensure institutional and operational effectiveness. According to the World Bank Country Manager, Gayle Martins, Sierra Leone is a resource-rich country with extensive known and potential mineral and petroleum resources. But, knowledge about the geology of the country is limited with little modern data in the public domain. She maintained this limits opportunities for the sector’s contributions to economic growth and sustainable development. “The country currently does not have a high quality inventory of geological data or modern maps that are the essential building bocks for a dynamic minerals sectors,” she added.

AMK/23/10/18

By Alhaji M. Kamara

Wednesday October 24, 2018.

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