Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 September 2020:
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources – Timothy Kabba and his team, last week conducted a two-day familiarisation tour of three mining companies in the southern and eastern districts of the country, to discuss mining operations.
The companies visited were – Sierra Diamonds Limited in Tongo, Kenema district; Sierra Rutile Limited and Sierra Mining Holdings Limited (Vimetco) in Moyamba district.
The minister and his team discussed ways the government can help the mining companies deal with the impact of the coronavirus on their operations.
The mining companies warmly welcomed the Minister and his team and spoke about the effects the pandemic is having on their business. They highlighted some of their plans for the coming years, as well as the work they have done in their mining communites before and during the pandemic, in order to help prevent the virus.
Karl Smithson, Executive Director of Sierra Diamonds Limited, said that his company is pleased with the way the government is allowing them to operate in the country. “Tongo Kimberlite diamonds are hybrid in nature, they are among the best diamonds in the world. The Tongo Diamond Project is one of the most significant diamond projects in West Africa. The company has plans to provide over 700 jobs for the locals. The landscape of Sierra Leone and Liberia are unique in terms of mineral in Africa”, he said.
Theuns De-Bruyne who is the Acting Chief Operations Director of Sierra Rutile Limited, said that over the past two years, the company has contributed immensely towards human capital development by training local people, as well as giving them scholarships to further their education in various tertiary institutions in the country.
Basudeb Datta – the General Manager of Vimetco, said that his company will continue to pay taxes to the government, and called on the Minister to look into how best the government can reduce taxes to help mining companies cope with the impact of the pandemic.
The Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Mr. Timothy Kabba commended the companies for their activities, both in the mining sector and their local communities.
He added that the companies should improve their operational capacity as the pandemic is beginning to show signs of subsiding in the country and the world at large.
The Minister promised to provide assistance to the companies to help them cope with the impact of the pandemic.
“I want to see the companies succeed so that the lives of the people will be better because they own the land and the minerals”, he said.
He commended the companies for the scholarships and training they are providing the local communities.
“I want to encourage the companies to ensure that the communities and the country at large benefit from the ongoing mining process so that the country will not be a total loser amidst the plenty of resources it has”, he noted.
Adressing the employees at Sierra Diamonds Limited (SDL), Sierra Rutile Limited (SRL), and Vimetco, the Mines Minister said: “I want to encourage you to work hard, be patient, law abiding, loyal to your country and be supportive to your family for a better life and a better economy of Sierra Leone”.
He also commended the companies for creating job opportunities for local people and their contribute to the country’s economic prosperity. He promised that the Government of President Bio will stop at nothing to making sure that their mining rights are protected.