Sierra Leone iron ore mining company gives notice to employees

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 September 2019:

After weeks of uncertainty, following the Sierra Leone government’s decision to ban the exporting of iron ore by Sierra Leone Mining Ltd., the company says that despite an international court order for the government to lift its ban, the ministry of mines is unmoved.

The company now says that it will take action to cut its losses, as it is becoming difficult for the company to continue to operate and meets its obligations to its employees and contractors.

SL Mining management yesterday, Thursday 19 September 2019, issued this notice to all its employees in Sierra Leone:

UPDATE ON GOVERNMENT OF SIERRA LEONE IMPOSED EXPORT AND SHIPPING BAN

1.Since SL Mining Limited (“SL Mining”) was granted a Mining Licence in a public process in March 2017, with SL Mining’s Large Scale Licence Agreement being subsequently ratified by the Parliament of the Republic of Sierra Leone in December 2017, we have all worked together with the Gerald Group, SL Mining’s sole shareholder, to develop a long term sustainable mine that can sustain the volatility of the iron ore market through production of a high quality product, Marampa Blue.

2.The Government of Sierra Leone (“GoSL”) suspended our operations on July 3rd, 2019, which shocked all of us. Following two months on unsuccessful engagement with the government, SL Mining has challenged the suspension at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in London where an Emergency Arbitration Final Order was awarded two weeks ago compelling the GoSL to lift the export ban and allow SL Mining to continue exporting and shipping its product, and ensure FULL operations resume.

3.GoSL is not complying with this Final Order and as of today’s date remains in noncompliance. GoSL fully understands our situation, we have warned them several times that their actions will oblige SL Mining to fully shut down operations and this was openly discussed during the arbitration proceedings with the GoSL present.

4.Without being able to export, it is not possible for SL Mining to continue operating while the GoSL ignores the terms of the Final Order and fails to engage in a meaningful discussion with SL Mining. SL Mining’s sole shareholder, the Gerald Group, has invested a great deal of money and efforts in Sierra Leone over many years and yet, was only allowed to make three successful shipments in a highly favorable market and then was struck by the GoSL suspension.

Under those conditions regrettably, SL Mining has no other viable options but to place the entire project into suspension in accordance with Sierra Leonean laws and in what is commonly referenced as ‘care and maintenance’. Investments and construction activities to expand the project must also be suspended and the construction team will be demobilized in the coming week.

5.SL Mining will hold management meetings over the next few days to outline various measures the company will undertake to place the mine on care and maintenance, including review on staffing and suspension of all activities with contractors and orderly demobilization.

6.SL Mining will update the staff further as and when more information is available.

7.It is very unfortunate that we have come to this point. We have worked together very hard and have achieved a great deal with our phase 1 construction completed in record time and the production for the first time in the country of our high grade 65% Fe concentrate Marampa Blue.

8.Remain assured that SL Mining and Gerald are committed to Marampa, the surrounding communities, and Sierra Leone as a whole. Even in these dire situations, SL Mining is and will continue to do everything in its power to defend its rights legally by all means possible in order to resume operations, discuss the impasse with the GoSL when they are ready to properly meet and resolve it, and eventually resume normal operations.

9.We will work through our difficulties together and continue building what we have always said we will build, a resilient and sustainable long-term project. (END).

Sierra Leone’s economy is facing serious challenges according to the latest World Bank report, including falling government revenue as a result of low export and lack of investments in key sectors of the economy.

There are fears foreign investors may stay away from Sierra Leone, should the government be increasingly perceived as failing to respect its own laws and the decisions of international courts.

Sierra Leone needs over $300 million in foreign private investments to help build the economy and create jobs.

Government’s reliance on foreign aid and borrowing to run the country is unsustainable. Without a strong private sector and a political climate that is conducive to investments, the economy will continue to suffer. President Bio must act now.

Read the company’s notice here:

Sierra Leone Mining Ltd notice to employees – Site Message re CnM 190919

12 Comments

  1. For me I dont think the government is reasonable. The country needs money and foreign currency. How can we stop export for three months? The government needs to think and allow the export of iron ore to continue.

  2. Mr Matturi – the only thing I know, that the International Chamber of Commerce vigorously represents are the voices of businesses,and investors worldwide. – and they are experts in that field. An emergency arbitration final order is issued only for gross business violations – especially when the terms of existing contracts and agreements are being illegally nullified,and violated.

    An order can also be regarded as a stern warning to whoever is responsible for hampering progress,forcing them to rethink their positions,immediately comply,or face severe consequences in an international court of law. All the odds are stacked against this government – they are facing a solid brick wall. Firstly,SL Mining Licence was granted by Parliament in a public process with members of both parties involved – try overturning such a unanimous,transparent decision in a court of law. Not happening, ever!

    And then as stated in the article above,Gerald Group the sole shareholder of SL Mining is claiming to have already spent a GREAT DEAL of money over the years in Sierra Leone. You think they will just walk away now empty handed,and in tears, – sadly mistaken. An international Court of Law will rule in their favor,and we will be forced to pay them damages in millions of dollars,or risk having sanctions imposed on our diamonds Cocoa,Titanium,bauxite,and other minerals. Is that what this SLPP government is looking for? Let’s wait and see…Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  3. Firstly,there are no hard questions to ask in this matter – the situation at hand speaks loudly, and clearly for itself, to all those with thoughtful,and discerning minds. What we are witnessing is a total breakdown in communications between the government and Investors – a needless finger pointing,and blame game has been going on,totally replacing practical,and sensible dialogue.

    In my view,It should never have come to this – it certainly should never have reached the point,where tempers flare,boil,and spill over,abruptly,disrupting the desperately needed revenue earnings coming from iron ore.Now that’s what I believe many will call, an Irresponsible Attitude in Governance. If this government truly believes that the deal the APC got was a bad one,all they had to do was to renegotiate shrewdly,vigorously,and in a friendly manner.Its quite easy,here are the kinds of words investors will appreciate,and embrace; “Gentlemen,its been good doing business with you,but as you know, there’s a new government now in power.The deal,and agreement the previous government had with you,it seems, suited them very well,but our priorities,and objectives are different – our intention is to renegotiate,all existing deals, and agreements in the interest of the people of Sierra Leone. We already know the figures,and percentages involved in the entire process – the mining,and exporting of Marampa Blue – but that’s not why we are here; we are here to have a friendly chat between old friends – to find common ground where everyone body wins,and there are no losers.”

    Again,I ask the SLPP – Can you do that? Can you say those words in a friendly,cordial,and harmless manner,without arrogance and threats? Are you willing to address any concerns investors may have? Well,If its just the money you after, and not into building longterm relationships with Investors,then you are in the wrong business – you shouldn’t be leading this nation at all – you belong in a market place where goods are easily bought,and sold -‘where customers come,and go,in rain,and sunshine,never to be seen again….Rising Sun will rise Again.

    • Mr. Saidu Conteh, I respect your view about renegotiating a new deal by the SLPP government if they find the deal negotiated by the former APC not good for the country. But, is it a bad deal that lead to the suspension or something else? Sierra Leone Mining Limited and the SLPP government must know that it’s the livelihoods of ordinary Sierra Leoneans that are at stake here. That’s why I’m praying for this problem to be solved as soon as possible.

      My reason for asking those questions was to know what triggered the STANDOFF and who should be held accountable. To be honest, I don’t have a clue and I really want to know the causes of the suspension and get answers. I hope everything will come to light shortly. Thanks Mr. Saidu Conteh for your contribution and GOD BLESS YOU.

  4. Let’s now come to business and ask the HARD QUESTIONS.
    Why did the government suspend the operations of Sierra Leone Mining Limited? Secondly, why is the government refusing to accept the decision of the International Chamber of Commerce?
    The government must have a very reasonable argument for not lifting the ban in my view. Both the government and Sierra Leone Mining Limited have not made any statement as to why this STANDOFF has not been resolved. Until we know the reason, I will not take sides.
    Will Sierra Leone Mining Limited and the Bio Administration for GOD’s sake and for the interest of the country, explain why this unnecessary NIGHTMARE? I hope the government comes out with a statement on this matter. We need IRON ORE exports to TOP UP the exports from DIAMONDS. The only reason the government and Sierra Leone Mining Limited do not care about this STANDOFF is because, the DIAMONDS from KONO are entering the INTERNATIONAL MARKET daily bringing MILLIONS OF DOLLARS into the government coffers I reckon.
    Finally, I hope President Bio will intervene as soon as possible to resolve this issue. GOD BLESS KONO AND OUR DIAMONDS. AMEN AND AMEN.

  5. Mr Pabai – the steadfast ability and intense desire to follow and obey laws to the letter, whether they be domestic or global, supersedes all things when it comes to governance. You need to understand that this isn’t the Wild wild west,with outlaws calling the shots, neither is it the Stone age times when barbarism and lawlessness were married together. This is the 21st Century, and there are formidable institutions and avenues in place, designed purposefully for the settling of grievances between Investors and nations that are their trade partners.

    Do you really believe that your government can challenge the International Chamber of Commerce’s decision and win? Come on man – wake up! What happened to your negotiating skills. You know, being flexible when you need to be and rigid when the situation demands it. Whats wrong with using a friendly smile, an understanding look in the eye, and a warm handshake in order to enhance and strengthen relationships?

    Globally, it is widely know that the most poisonous snakes can be charmed and made to fall asleep easily with just a gentle, soothing song. So, which songs are you singing to investors? Is it the noisy, harsh beatings of hollow drums made of old, wrinkled, and loosening leather? Are your trumpets those used to declare the beginning of strife and war against intolerant enemies, or are they flutes that resemble the sweet songs of adorable nightingales?

    Listen, the threats, bullying and blackmailing of Investors will never work. Why? Because they have the law, leading their way like an armour bearer – and best of all, they have truckloads and shiploads of money that never runs out. Clear enough?…Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  6. I am personally appealing to Mr. Saidu Conteh to replace his above comment with the Brilliant Comment he made on the Article “Why is Africa Poor?” The only line he needs to change is ‘Rising Sun Will Rise Again’ and replace it with – ‘Sierra Leone Will Rise Again’. Thanks.

  7. We support the Government of the great Republic of Sierra Leone. Don’t give up fighting for your people. Sierra Leoneans deserve better. Enough is enough.

  8. It’s extremely foolhardy for this regime to continue to play hardball in the midst of all the odds stack up against them. By all indications, we are a nation of beggars, whose survival and economic development relies mainly on international support. Virtually in every developmental indicator we are rated at the extreme bottom, so, I really don’t understand why certain officials within the regime think our nation has a bargaining power to reckon with.

    I have never seen anyone who greatly admires or respect a beggar. So until our so called politicians put their acts together and get our country into a solid admirable footing, they should leave the arrogance mindset out the door. During the SLFA saga, we saw how the chief minister’s arrogant behavior towards FIFA led to our nation’s suspension. At the end, it was our local talents that bear the brunt of it, they were denied to showcase their talent during the African’s nations cup.

    Now we have the minister of mineral resources and some other government officials fighting one of the major investors in the country, while openly failing to abide by international court orders. I am not really sure what message the regime is trying to send. By all indications, the end result will be investors staying away. Again, we are nation of beggars, we need others more than they need us.

  9. Goodness Gracious….Losses upon losses to be incurred by Investors,and the treasury of Sierra Leone because of the gross incompetencies,and stupidities of those now in power. Disobeying an International. Court’s well thought out decision,and a final emergency arbitration order,handed to them by the International Chamber of Commerce shows you how lawless,shady,and criminal minded these people really are.

    Such an act of gross irresponsible behavior, will only tarnish the image,and credibility of our Country abroad,and drive investors away,like men running away from the harsh sting of bees. Strange is it not? Criminals who never even had the courage,and abilities to open an ordinary wayside Apeteshie Bar,ever before in their miserable lives,are here,arrogantly telling industrious,and seasoned investors what to do,and how to run their businesses?

    And who is it among you millions in Sierra Leone,after seeing this total lack of good judgement, that is still convinced,that this superficial government is moving on the right track? Who still believes they are progressive, productive,and totally effective? (lmao) Funny, they lack the abilities to think,and create jobs for our citizens,yet they are forcing investors,through their irrational policies,to layoff,and cut loose their hardworking employees. What a strange, silly minded, people they are! The SLPP – a lousy bunch of halfwitted, winos, and Dumbo’s,crowded together in one place…Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

    • So it is stupidity to stop the unfair exploitation of the natural resources of Sierra Leone by foreign investors who give back only pittance in exchange for huge exports of our highly traded Marampa Blue Iron ore? Are you telling me that the shoddy contract your APC led government signed With SLM which shipped three ship loads of highly graded iron ore and gave only $400,000 to the Government of Sierra Leone was a patriotic and clever thing to do for the growth and sustainable development of Sierra Leone.

      Is it not time to put an end to daylight robbery of our natural resources and people which has gone on for far too long, leaving the country with no development except enriching foreign companies and their shareholders? Do you think any meaningful success can be achieved without making firm decisions like the one now taken by the SLPP Government to stop rogue investors from taking advantage of our poor economies and exploiting us for nothing?

  10. This situation in the mining of IRON ORE in Sierra Leone is a good lecture for those comparing it with the DIAMOND MINING INDUSTRY. OH BOY. DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER. IRON ORE MINING is very UNSTABLE and UNCERTAIN MINING sector in my view. Will Mr. Bilal Coleman now agree with me that the MINING of DIAMONDS is NUMBER ONE IN THE MINING SECTOR? Does he know what will happen with this latest development in the IRON ORE MINING SECTOR? I believe that, thousands of jobs will be lost which will lead to PORTLEXIT for AGES again. Mr. Bilal Coleman somewhere there still not answering to my questions. MAY GOD HELP the IRON ORE MINING SECTOR.

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