Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 May 2022:
President Dr Julius Maada Bio on Thursday, was guest of honour at the launch of a project that will see the expansion of iron ore production from two million dry tonnes per annum (MTPA) to 7 MTPA by Marampa Mines Limited (MML) – a subsidiary of the Gerald Group.
Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Gerald Group, Craig Dean, thanked President Julius Maada Bio for his leadership in settling the dispute between the government, the company and the people of Marampa. He stated that the company is one of the world’s oldest and largest independent metals traders that are advancing economies and working towards building a more sustainable future.
He further noted that many big iron ore companies of the world are producing 62% ore-grade but that they at Marampa are producing 65% high-grade ore for export across the world.
He added that the government of Sierra Leone owns 10% shares at MML, and that the company has employed over 2,000 Sierra Leoneans, with about 40% of the employees being women.
“Your Excellency, ladies, and gentlemen, by next year, we will expand our production to 7 million tonnes per annum. We want to have a bigger scale of production that will be beneficial to the people and government of Sierra Leone and our company. Thank you very much,” he said.
President Julius Maada Bio said that as a government they believed that the mining sector is critical to national development and future prosperity, adding that this is why his government commissioned a comprehensive, nationwide geophysical survey to obtain first-hand data that will help in negotiating with potential investors.
“We are also reviewing a favourable and inviting taxation and regulatory regime that promotes community development, and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives. As you already know, we have worked very hard over the last four years to make Sierra Leone a low-risk investment destination.
“Additionally, may I suggest that with new renewable energy technologies, MML could do better by integrating the use of cleaner energy in parts of its operations. This could be part of a future growth and sustainability strategy and clearly one that presents Sierra Leone’s mining sector as one that is open to innovation and low-carbon sources of energy,” the President said.
He also lauded the fact that gender equality is firmly on the agenda of MML and that women are a meaningful and significant part of the workforce, adding that addressing the issue of gender parity in the mining sector is a novel idea that sits very well with his government’s overarching priority of gender equality and women’s empowerment in national development.
“So, women, who are now encouraged to study STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] disciplines for free through 17 years of school and university under my government’s free quality school education agenda, can get preferential placements at these kinds of mine sites.
“As a government, we urge investors to be patient, open, and engaging and we will do everything necessary to nurture a very healthy relationship – one that fosters goodwill, and from which the investors can register healthy profits and reinvest or repatriate those profits. So, I find the deep commitment to what Craig Dean calls ‘the inherent long-term value and potential in Sierra Leone,’ very assuring. Rest assured, therefore, that government will fully play its part,” he said.
Paramount Chief of Marampa Chiefdom, Port Loko District, PC Alie Koblo Queen Kabia II, expressed gratitude on behalf of the local community for the production expansion by MML, adding that this could boost the country’s economic growth.
He said that the Gerald Group, operating MML, have done a lot for the chiefdom and by extension the entire district, through its corporate social responsibility policy that is aimed at developing the chiefdom and its communities.
There is nothing to give us hope vis-a-vis the expansion of the Marampa Mines, we have been on this same road for sixty one years without any evidence of benefit to the economy and people, an irrefutable fact captured by Dauda Yillah. If all the other natural resources that we have have failed to make our lives better,what confidence should we have that Bio’s words mean something? How much of the 10% pittance stake which the country has in the mines will actually reach us after Bio and his gang have had their share – 0%? What keeps happening to our diamonds, gold, bauxite monies anyway? Cynicism is the only thing that should be attached to Bio’s words. He is like all the others before him except Sir Milton and Ahmad Tejan Kabba. The large diamond named THE STAR OF SIERRA LEONE disappeared under the nose of Siaka Stevens; another large one did the same thing under Momoh; yet another one disappeared under Earnest; Maada has been no different. The amount of our natural resources which have disappeared, without a trace, under SLPP and APC, is not only enough to make us filthy rich but actually give aid to those giving us aid now. Let us try NGC.
The question we need to ask in relation to such wonderful visions of a Sierra Leonean economic nirvana is a very simple one. If the blatant and criminal misuse by the powers that be of our country’s mineral wealth over the last six decades is anything to go by, why expect us to take the claims and promises now being made as the gospel truth rather than the illusions – the rose-tinted scenarios and sugar-coated predictions – they truly are? The answer to this question lies of course in the way I have framed it – in the bit starting with ‘if’.
Moreover, instances of economic misgovernance and criminality as detailed most recently in reports by the Auditor General and by the Africanist Press should give readers an idea of the destination of our national share of proceeds from the high grade ore being extracted at Marampa. That destination being the bottomless pockets of corrupt and greedy people holding the reins of political power at the moment.
This is a positive and welcoming news for our citizens. The tough negotiations that took place between the New Direction government and the Gerald Group is a Win Win Situation for both parties.
Thanks to President Bio for the implementation of Coporate Social responsibilities which will help with the development of our communities, as was evidenced in the Free quality education program when companies were building schools around the country. That’s a big contrast with the policies of the lifetime leader of the APC who only cared about his private bank account.
Let’s continue to hope and pray that our citizens will be good employees with good work ethics, and hopefully our economy will be transformed during this difficult time.
Just another dream like the Lungi Bridge proposal.
This iron ore project is too labor and capital intensive for the nation. Let’s pay more attention to some more Agro-businesses. The nation continues to depend revenue-wise on these few depleted industries for revenue generation.