Government of Sierra Leone ordered to rescind its decision to terminate SL Mining contract

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 February 2020:

As the economic downturn in Sierra Leone continues to worsen, questions are being asked about the government’s rationale for terminating or suspending mining contracts that have in the last few years, helped in boosting export revenue and GDP, especially as the government is now proving to be unsuccessful in attracting new investors to take over those mines.

Although many of the country’s mining agreements with foreign companies were badly drawn up and in need of serious review, the current government’s decision to terminate or suspend those agreements in an unstable and uncertain global economic climate, is seriously hampering efforts to rebuild the country’s economy and attract new investors. In short, investors are staying away, afraid of losing their investments in Sierra Leone.

This is now being compounded by yesterday’s press statement published by SL Mining, whose mining agreement negotiated with the previous government has been terminated by the new government, for which the company has taken legal action that may well prove to be highly costly to the government and people of Sierra Leone.

“Following the purported cancellation of SL Mining’s Licence, the ICC Arbitral Tribunal issued an order on 25 November 2019, which the Company has described in a Statement dated 27 November 2019. The Government failed to comply with that Order and instead aggravated the dispute with SL Mining.

“The Government’s non-compliance and aggravating misconduct has led the ICC Arbitral Tribunal to issue, at SL Mining’s request, a Peremptory Order on 13 February 2020 in which the Tribunal: Ordered the Government to rescind the purported cancellation of SL Mining’s Licence or otherwise to reinstate it. Declared that the Government failed to comply with the ICC Emergency Arbitrator’s orders dated 30 August 2019, 8 September 2018, 4 October 2019 and 9 October 2019. Declared that the Government failed to comply with the ICC Tribunal’s interim order dated 4 November 2019.

“Ordered that, until ordered otherwise and pending the final resolution of the dispute by the Tribunal: The Government lifts any prohibition on shipping or export of minerals directed at SL Mining; The parties continue to comply with their obligations under clause 6.9(d) of the Large Scale Licence Agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone and SL Mining Limited dated 5 December 2017; The parties refrain from aggravating and take no steps to aggravate the dispute between them.

“The Government shall refrain from: removing, dealing with, or otherwise interfering, directly or via third parties, with SL Mining’s assets, including equipment and stockpiles of iron ore, in relation with SL Mining’s Marampa iron ore project; directly or indirectly operating itself, or allowing third parties to operate, the Marampa Project; taking any steps towards the issuance of a mining licence and/or entry into a mining lease agreement relating to the Marampa Project or any part thereof to and/or with a third party; and otherwise altering the status quo as of immediately before receipt of the letter purportedly cancelling the Licence.

“Declared and ordered that the ICC Emergency Arbitrator’s orders continue in full force. Ordered the Government to comply with the ICC Tribunal’s orders within 8 days of the Peremptory Order,” dsays SL Mining in its statement.

This is the full statement published yesterday by SL Mining:

18 February, 2020 –  Lunsar, Sierra Leone and London, UK: SL Mining Limited (“SL Mining” / “the Company”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Gerald International Limited, issues this press release in order to protect its legitimate interests and place third parties on notice.  This release relates to the ICC Arbitral Tribunal’s Peremptory Order dated 13 February 2020 and the binding restrictions placed by the Tribunal upon the Government of Sierra Leone (“Government”) in respect of SL Mining’s Marampa Project, assets, stockpiles and equipment.

SL Mining is pursuing legal action, including ICC Arbitration, against the Government of Sierra Leone as a result of the Government’s unlawful conduct and non-compliance with the binding decisions reached in international arbitration. In the Company’s Statement of 8 October 2019, SL Mining confirmed that the Government had, by letter received on 7 October 2019, purported to cancel SL Mining’s Large-Scale Mining Licence No ML 01/2017 relating to the Marampa Project. This purported cancellation was unlawful and invalid and was contrary to the binding orders of the ICC Emergency Arbitrator.

Following the purported cancellation of SL Mining’s Licence, the ICC Arbitral Tribunal issued an order on 25 November 2019, which the Company has described in a Statement dated 27 November 2019.  The Government failed to comply with that Order and instead aggravated the dispute with SL Mining. The Government’s non-compliance and aggravating misconduct has led the ICC Arbitral Tribunal to issue, at SL Mining’s request, a Peremptory Order on 13 February 2020 in which the Tribunal:

  1. Ordered the Government to rescind the purported cancellation of SL Mining’s Licence or otherwise to reinstate it.
  2. Declared that the Government failed to comply with the ICC Emergency Arbitrator’s orders dated 30 August 2019, 8 September 2018, 4 October 2019 and 9 October 2019.
  3. Declared that the Government failed to comply with the ICC Tribunal’s interim order dated 4 November 2019.
  4. Ordered that, until ordered otherwise and pending the final resolution of the dispute by the Tribunal:
    • The Government lifts any prohibition on shipping or export of minerals directed at SL Mining;
    • The parties continue to comply with their obligations under clause 6.9(d) of the Large Scale Licence Agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone and SL Mining Limited dated 5 December 2017;
    • The parties refrain from aggravating and take no steps to aggravate the dispute between them;
    • The Government shall refrain from:
      • removing, dealing with, or otherwise interfering, directly or via third parties, with SL Mining’s assets, including equipment and stockpiles of iron ore, in relation with SL Mining’s Marampa iron ore project;
      • directly or indirectly operating itself, or allowing third parties to operate, the Marampa Project;
      • taking any steps towards the issuance of a mining licence and/or entry into a mining lease agreement relating to the Marampa Project or any part thereof to and/or with a third party; and
      • otherwise altering the status quo as of immediately before receipt of the letter purportedly cancelling the Licence.
    • Declared and ordered that the ICC Emergency Arbitrator’s orders continue in full force.
    • Ordered the Government to comply with the ICC Tribunal’s orders within 8 days of the Peremptory Order.

A peremptory order is a final order made by a tribunal specifying a time for compliance. It brings with it a number of adverse legal consequences for the Government.  The ICC Tribunal also found that “pursuant to the arbitration agreement between the Parties, as ratified by Parliament, “any decision” of this Tribunal “is final and binding and enforceable” and has “the same force and effect as a judgment of a court of the last resort of the Republic of Sierra Leone or any other appropriate jurisdiction.” SL Mining will not hesitate to take legal action against third parties who infringe its rights in relation to the Marampa Project.

SL Mining is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gerald International Limited, which is the holding company for all entities in Gerald Group. The Group is one of the world’s leading commodity groups, and the oldest and largest employee-owned metals merchant in the world. SL Mining restarted production at the Marampa Project after 4 years, following earlier failed attempts by other international companies. SL Mining began marketing and shipping premium grade >65% iron ore concentrate to steel mills in China in June and July 2019 from the Marampa Project. (END OF STATEMENT)

But in sharp contrast to the spirit with which commercial agreements and international disputes are resolved through negotiations; and in defiance of the Tribunal’s orders, the government of Sierra Leone through the Attorney General wrote to SL Mining and all of its contractors and principals, informing them of the government’s decision to seize and take control of the assets of SL Mining, if they are not removed from the mining site by the 28th February 2020.

The letter also states: “Please note that no Minerals Ore or other natural resources under this notice shall be deemed to constitute assets belonging to any entity or individual under this notice other than the Republic of Sierra Leone. Any attempt to remove Minerals, Minerals Ore or other natural resources is unlawful and criminal.

“The Republic of Sierra Leone wishes all to know that failure to remove the mining assets by the date of 28th February 2020, the Government of Sierra Leone will impose a charge of 50,000 United States Dollars for each day that the said assets remain on the lands of the Marampa Mines area, depriving the Government of Sierra Leone from productive and gainful use of its mineral resources.

“Also note that, after a further period of two months from the date of this notice, should the mining assets remain on the Marampa Mines area and having incurred the said charges stated above, the Government of Sierra Leone reserves the right to take all necessary action to secure the rights within the Marampa mining area.”

This is the full text of the letter sent by the country’s Attorney General to SL Mining, which today must be giving serious food for thought to anyone wanting to invest in Sierra Leone:

THE GOVERNMENT OF SIERRA LEONE OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY – GENERA AND MINISTRY OF JUSTICE, 3rd floor, Guma Building, Lamina Sankoh Street, Freetown, Sierra Leone

AGMOJ/LM/M29/1

Timis Corporation (SL) Limited
Cosimo Borreli Walsh – Borreli Walsh
Nitani Perera
SL Mining Limited
Gerald International Limited,
Standard Chartered Bank (SL) Limited

Dear Sirs,

Re: NOTICE TO REMOVE MINING ASSETS FROM THE MARAMPA MINES AREA

I wish to refer to the above subject and to draw your attention to the recent termination of the SL Mining Ltd mining Licences over the Marampa mining area. I also wish to draw your attention to several legal actions which have been instituted (or are threatened) against the Government of Sierra Leone nationally and internationally.

In these actions which several conflicting claims have been made regarding the ownership of the Marampa Mine assets by yourselves of which the government of Sierra Leone is not in the position to authenticate such ownership titles or rights.

The claims have been made severally and jointly by persons known or described as:
1) Timis Corporation (SL) Limited 26 Brook Fields Motor Road, Freetown, Sierra Leone
2) Cosimo Borreli Walsh –Borreli Walsh Level 17, Tower 1 Admiratty Center, 18 Harcourt Road , Hong Kong
3) Nitani Perera 4/F Palm Grove House, Road Town , Tortola, British Virgin Islands
4) SL Mining Limited Brook Fields Motor Road, Freetown, Sierra Leone
5) Gerald International Limited 3rd Floor, 1 Strand, Grand Buildings, Trafaigar Square, London WC 2N 5 HR
6) Standard Chartered Bank ( Representing’ The Banks; Lenders to London mining Limited) Lightfoot Boton Street, Freetown, Sierra Leone.

The Government of Sierra Leone is aware that there are agreements or arrangements between one or more of the above entitles and interests in relation to the competing and/ or consolidated claims to the assets at the Marampa Mines, which the Government of Sierra Leone has guaranteed, endorsed or is a party thereto.

Also, the Government of Sierra Leone cannot identify, verify or certify the authenticity of all the various claims and interests asserted over the assets at the Marampa Mines. And there are also no valid existing mining licences currently held over the Marampa Mines.

The Government of Sierra Leone therefore calls on all the claimants and / or purported owners of the assets (however they may determine their rights thereto, jointly or severally) to remove the mining assets from the land lying in Marampa mines and surrounding areas by the 28th February 2020.

Please note that no Minerals Ore or other natural resources under this notice shall be deemed to constitute assets belonging to any entity or individual under this notice other than the Republic of Sierra Leone. Any attempt to remove Minerals, Minerals Ore or other natural resources is unlawful and criminal.

The Republic of Sierra Leone wishes all to know that failure to remove the mining assets by the date of 28th February 2020, the Government of Sierra Leone will impose a charge of 50,000 United States Dollars for each day that the said assets remain on the lands of the Marampa Mines area, depriving the Government of Sierra Leone from productive and gainful use of its mineral resources.

Also note that, after a further period of two months from the date of this notice, should the mining assets remain on the Marampa Mines area and having incurred the said charges stated above, the Government of Sierra Leone reserves the right to take all necessary action to secure the rights within the Marampa mining area.

By this letter, all claimants of the assets on the Marampa mining lands are advised to act ( jointly or severally , as you so determine by or amongst yourselves to the extent of your interests) to vacate the lands of the Marampa Mines site of all your assets with immediate effect.

You MUST also ensure that all your liabilities to any private entity, or individual occurring out of use of any assets or claims with respect thereto is settled upon removal of the assets.

This Notice herein conveyed, will be published in the Sierra Leone Gazette and in other media outlets for the attention of the general public, and other parties (or their assigns) that may have any interest in the Marampa Mines asset that has not been disclosed to the Government of Sierra Leone.

Yours sincerely

Dr. Priscillia Schwartz – Attorney General and Minister of Justice

Cc:
H.E President, of the Republic of Sierra Leone Dr. Julius Maada Bio
The Hon. Vice President, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh
The Hon. Speaker, Sierra Leone Parliament
The Chief Justice, Judiciary of Sierra Leone
The Chief Minister

 

Statement on ICC Arbitral Tribunal’s Peremptory Order relating to SL Mining’s Marampa Project

11 Comments

  1. Bottom line, the mess and lawlessness with our economy continues unabated. Just a bunch of fools at every decision making in our country. All I can say on this issue is this – There is just no greater fool than an old fool. God bless our country and get rid of those fools.

  2. The crux of this problem is loud and clear. The ‘new direction’ paopa SLPP government’s aims and objectives are to impoverish the North, or any area of the country that is not SLPP orientated. Now, the whole process is backfiring. We have to wait and see how they are going to get out of this fiasco unscathed. It may turn out to be a miscalculated adventure …

  3. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) supposed to be the voice of world business championing the global economy and should act as a force for economic growth, job creation and prosperity for especially poor countries like Sierra Leone. The ICC which is the world’s leading arbitrary institution recently recorded 25,000 cases from 142 countries, which showed that many investors have been trying to take advantage of vulnerable people and countries around the globe and Sierra Leone is not an exception but what is unique about Sierra Leone is although we are blessed with most of the natural resources created by the Almighty, with only 7 million people, we are still the worst country in the world in Human Capital Development and was recently classed as the 3rd Hungriest country.

    I personally believe that since 2017 when the APC government declared Austerity Measures, which was an indication that we were already in the “ bottomless pit” so the new direction government was left with no option but to fight back against rogue and inhuman investors on behalf of the poor people of our nation.

    Let’s continue to support the democratically elected government for the bold stance they have taken to roll back some of the bad deals that the lifetime chairman of the APC signed which was rubber stamped by his stooges in the parliament at midnight before the majority of voters decided to kick them out of State House, and I hope that most APC supporters will stop rushing President Maada Bio to clean up the big mess that their lifetime leader left behind. As the Krio proverb says – “IF YOU HOSE NOR SELL U, STREET NOR GO BUY YOU.”

  4. Sorry, i’m not really informed about these contracts between the Sierra Leone government and the foreign mining companies per example. Sure Sierra Leone needs at the moment foreign companies and investors to develop with the target to become independent and stand on its feet. So, at the moment these contracts had to be a win win situation and not a further postcolonial exploitation.

  5. There we are! Everyone here today is jubilating, in favour of the fereign Investor who with the help of other unpatriotic indivividuals have been engaged in exploiting the citizens of Sierra Leone. If the Govt. loses this case, it would be a big blow on the nation, even the Chief Justice had said this a few weeks ago.

    But what pains much is the fact that we do not love our country at all, we are happy when the Govt. loses in its strides to change the narrative. If this present Govt. fails, then Sierra Leone is going to fail forever! It is therefore high time we try to think about putting our Country first. Thanks to you all.

  6. Bilal Coleman, People like you are responsible for the messy situation Salone finds itself in today. Your bad advice speaks volumes about the kind of person you are – a pessimist with unclear vision.

    • BRAHIM, Sierra Leone does not have to wait for my advice to act. The Government of Sierra Leone is being advised by prominent lawyers that include the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. The Attorney General and Minister of Justice holds a Ph.D in Law from a prominent and prestigious university in England. Should the Government of Sierra Leone disregard its highly educated legal advisers and listen to an APC Tolongbo agent and sympathiser called BRAHIM? Hahaha. Funny. Isn’t it?

  7. Mr Abdul Thomas – wishing you a happy new year. My apologies for the language I used last time; it wont happen again. It seems things are getting out of control for Maada Bio. The above press releases clearly show that the government of Salone is playing with fire. I remember Saidu Conteh saying things are going to turn out for the worst for Salone, and its already happening.

  8. A prominent Freetown lawyer once noted that for every 10 million dollars of iron ore exported by Sierra Leone Mining, Sierra Leone only gets 100 dollars. I am sure of that revenue, Ernest Koroma and Samura Kamara would pocket millions of dollars.

    Ernest Koroma, Samura Kamara and John Bonor Sisay, Ernest Koroma’s nephew also sold Sierra Leone’s share of Sierra Rutile and pocketed the proceeds. Moreover, it has been revealed that Ernest Koroma owns a fat share of Koidu Holdings, the company operating in the diamond fields of Kono district.

    Indeed, when the dots are connected, the picture becomes clear that Sierra Leone has been held hostage for a long time by Ernest Koroma, the APC and shady international operators and agents. So, when gullible APC sycophants talk about foreign direct investment especially in mining, they make fools of themselves for having no idea as to who has been benefiting from Sierra Leone’s mineral resources.

    Sierra Leone should not allow a coterie of international racketeers and scoundrels with domestic connections to bully her. The Attorney General and Minister of Justice’s letter is on the mark. SL Mining must quit the Marampa Mines or risk their assets seized. SL Mining only have themselves to blame for allowing Ernest Koroma and Samura Kamara to dupe them.

  9. Wow; what an interesting turn of events!! It appears individuals’ egos have taken over common sense to run our country. Exactly how will other potential investors deem this saga as it plays itself in the international domain? I just don’t get it. Oh poor mama Salone, when will you see relief from the hands of these egotistical, self-centered, unpatriotic individuals?

    While the level of hardship continues to mount due to these corrupt individuals’ actions, their extravagant life-styles continue to take new level: overseas trips, fleet of luxury and expensive cars, and a multitude of mansions all at their disposal. So they care less about the layman’s plight. Currently, our nation is ranked among the least peaceful and stable; coupled with this international display of lawlessness by the regime, we are indeed heading for doom.

  10. Another bad move – these people are not only lawless,but shockingly incompetent to the innermost core of their tribalistic, regressive, delusional beings.I mean seriously,how stupid does someone have to be,to not know that you cannot just cancel legitimate,valid mining contracts and get away with it? This notorious SLPP government,is as ignorant as they come. They are a bunch of unthinking knuckleheads that believe, their backwards mentalities and attitudes of threats, bullying, and intimidations can be easily projected and practiced menacingly on a global stage, with the greatest of ease possible.(lol)

    Listen, these good for nothing’s have already tarnished the image of out beloved country abroad through their stubborn, unruly, wayward attitudes of outright disobedience of a previous arbitrary ruling against them,that explicitly stated that SL Mining must be allowed to continue doing business legally, peacefully, conveniently, and without any forms of hindrances. But Saidu why didn’t these poorly educated Bo school palm wine drunkards just sensibly comply,and do the right thing?

    My friend,vultures are the most vicious,wicked predatory birds;they eat the entrails of their prey,showing no mercy while it is still alive. Against these vultures,SL mining should stand firm,unafraid,unfazed knowing the sharpened claws of these evil creatures,and sprawling wings can be broken, for they are not made of steel. Nothing but trouble,and untold suffering is what the poor people of Sierra Leone,are experiencing today. Hunger,diseases,and malnutrition stemming directly from abject poverty is on the rise,and these Potbelly, huge feeding ministers are busy running around senselessly cancelling mining contracts that brought in a substantial continuous flow of revenues,desperately needed by our beloved nation.

    Many people have starved to death because of the policies of the notorious SLPP,and many more will suffer,and continue to die,if something is not sensibly and urgently done to halt and reverse the catastrophic downwards economic trend. A real moment has finally arrived – let’s see if these ignoramuses really believe they can ignore International laws and get away with it, without a scratch, bruise, or a life threatening injury. (lmao) Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

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