Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 January 2019:
Last Wednesday, 9th January 2019 – A special task-force set up by the Sierra Leone government to investigate industrial unrest at the Sierra Rutile Mining Company, and make recommendations regarding relationship between workers and the company, presented its findings and recommendations to president Julius Maada Bio.
After a series of strike actions at the Sierra Rutile, government held meetings with stakeholders, and a special task-force was formed to conduct independent investigation into the industrial unrest and strike actions. The task-force was facilitated by the Office of the Chief Minister.
Chairman of the Taskforce, Julius Partai, said the investigation was a collective effort, and expressed appreciation for the support he received from the community, the police and the Sierra Leone Armed Forces.
Mr Partai said that the findings and recommendations in the report are detailed and presented with fairness and integrity. He stated that the committee are aware of how important the mining sector is to the country, especially in boosting the local economy through payment of taxes and creation of jobs.
“There are a lot of issues in the report which need the urgent attention of government and we are ready to work with the government to ensure that government benefits from its natural resources. We know that since minerals were discovered in the country our communities have been plagued by a series of issues and sometimes the expectations, in terms of what we should be getting as communities from the mining companies, have not been met.
“There are a lot of issues in these communities that need urgent attention from government and it is our pleasure, based on all those evidence collected and based on all the inputs we have collected from all stakeholders, that this report has been conducted to the best of our knowledge and ability. The next stage, we look forward to the leadership to ensure that the vision of the New Direction is accomplished,” he urged.
Receiving the reports, president Bio thanked the team for conducting the investigation to the best of their ability. He said the nation was trying to regularise a lot of things and that as a government, they were bound to strike the balance to ensure that there was a conducive environment that encouraged investors to operate as well as making sure that the rights of citizens are protected.
He said that the industrial unrest is a security issue for the nation and that was why government had decided to intervene. He said he will look into the findings and recommendations of the report to understand the expectations of the company and the community, will continue to engage and have dialogue with the various stakeholders to reach a common ground.
He said that: “We want to get this resolved as quickly as possible because we want to move on and do not want this to drag down the momentum that we want for the economy. We will honestly look at what is possible and try to find a middle ground and make sure that the issues are quickly resolved.”
In another report last weekend, Marampa iron ore mines has started operations under the management of Sierra Mining Ltd. The site is said to be fully operational with a stockpile of grade 1 ore ready to be exported.
The suspension of iron ore production in 2018, has cost Sierra Leone tens of millions of dollars in export earnings.
Video showing resumption of Marampa iron ore mining: