Sierra Leone resumes iron ore export after painfully long break

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 June 2019:

The government of Sierra Leone can once again begin to breathe a sigh of relief, following the announcement by SL Mining Limited – a wholly owned subsidiary of Gerald Group, that its first shipment of iron ore concentrate – branded ‘Marampa Blue’ to China, has set sail on MV Cooper from the Queen Elizabeth II Sea Port in Freetown.

Sierra Leone has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in export revenue, following the collapse of iron ore mining with the closure of African Minerals and Shandong iron mining Ltd. over four years ago.

The country’s economy is yet to fully recover from the twin shock of the Ebola crisis and the fall in global market price of iron ore in 2013-2016.

(Photo Below: British Prime Minister – Mrs Theresa May and Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio in London early this month).

But today, there is ray of hope for Sierra Leone’s government revenue, with the resumption of iron ore exporting by SL Mining, with much credit to the leadership of president Julius Maada Bio, whose tough approach to governance – backed by a strong fiscal discipline, is winning the hearts and minds of foreign investors, after winning the 2018 elections.

The company said that loading of over 55,000 tonnes of high grade (greater than 65 percent) iron ore concentrate was completed five days ago, for sailing the same day.

This maiden shipment will be delivered to customers in China, with a second shipment expected to leave soon on MV Ultralaz carrying approximately 62,000 tonnes of iron ore concentrate.

Sierra Leone’s Minister of Mines and Minerals, Rado Yokie said that iron ore exports had been dormant for four years: “Today is a historic day,” said Mr. Yokie.

“As Marampa Blue is a very high-grade ore, and coming from Sierra Leone, it sends a good signal to the world that this Country is ready for business. It is a feather to Sierra Leone’s mining cap,” he added.

Craig Dean, Chairman of Gerald Group and SL Mining said: “SL Mining’s first shipment departed from Freetown Port safe and sound. This is a proud day and a key milestone for SL Mining, and for our employees and contractors who have been working on this complex project to restore production of iron ore at the Marampa mine, alongside local communities and the Government of Sierra Leone. I would like to thank everyone involved.”

“SL Mining forms an important strategic asset in Gerald Group’s global portfolio. Our goal is to make ‘Marampa Blue’ an internationally recognised premium grade iron ore brand. As we continue to build on our progress so far, to deliver sustainable and responsible mining in Marampa, we intend to expand the delivery of high-grade >65 percent iron ore concentrate to markets in Europe and Africa,” Mr. Dean added.

Located in the Port Loko District, in the northern province of Sierra Leone, SL Mining is engaged in the exploration, development and production of ‘Marampa Blue’, a high-grade iron ore concentrate (with >65 percent Fe content).

SL Mining was awarded a renewable Large-Scale Mining License granted under the Mines and Minerals Act, 2009 In March 2017 for a term of 25 years, emphasizing the strong support for the Marampa project locally, and reflecting its significant importance to the national economy.

Together with Gerald Group’s international expertise in metals, finance, strategic investments and experienced management teams and employees, SL Mining says that it aims to build a resilient and long-life iron ore mine in Sierra Leone, as well as expand its operations by integrating mining, processing and rail and port logistics, alongside playing a responsible role in the economic and social stability of the Lunsar region.

About Gerald Group

Gerald Group is one of the world’s oldest and largest independent and employee-owned metal trading houses. Founded in 1962 in the United States, Gerald is headquartered in London. Led by Chairman and CEO Craig Dean, the Group has approximately US$10 billion in turnover.

Gerald is a dedicated and trusted partner to leading miners and processors, industrial consumers and major financial institutions and has market presence in all regions of the world.

The Group operates trading hubs in Shanghai, Stamford and Switzerland for the merchanting of non-ferrous, ferrous and precious metals, as well as related concentrates and raw materials.

Gerald aims to contribute to world trade and economic development in a sustainable and responsible manner. The Group’s global footprint, conservative risk management culture, expert market intelligence, deeply experienced and innovative trading desks combined with logistics, storage and structured finance solutions, are complimented by strategic relationships, enhancing the business’ capability to provide customers access to a diverse and steady supply of resources.


  1. Mr Saidu Conteh, don’t you think the “rising sun” should be 95% held responsible for the condition the country is in today? Since independence, the APC was in control for about 45 years. Is this the result you are proud of? Be fair and always speak the truth. Mama Salone should be above petty party politics. Good luck sir.

    • Mr Kaikai – all my criticisms of the SLPP government are not unfounded, but properly thought-out, measured and weighed on the mental scales of pragmatism, sincerity and good judgment. It’s entirely up to you to think and believe what you want about me.

      If you believe in the logic that, length of time in power should equal and be transformed into the amount of progress being attained, then for the sake of being polite, I agree – So be it. The APC is 95 percent responsible for the way things are presently – totally agree.

      Every inch, yard and mile of development in our country today, no matter how little they may appear in your eyes had been achieved by the APC. It seems some of you suffering from occasional bouts of amnesia have already forgotten that progress had come to a grinding halt, because of an I’ll advised Coup d’etat that overthrew Saidu Momoh, and a brutal war that completely shattered the economy, destroyed infrastructures and took countless numbers of innocent lives.

      What did Strasser and Bio achieve all those years they were in Power? One percent? I totally agree. And what criteria will you use to measure Tejan Kabbah’s level of achievements in office? Will it be fair to say he contributed about 2 percent, and the Margai family another 2. Now there you have it, a total of 5 percent worth of achievements to be shared equally among a bunch of losers.

      Applaud yourselves loudly for the world to cheer and hear. The APC is ever evolving – like a bird, preening her feathers to clean and present herself nicely and orderly, so also is the APC being strategically transformed to meet the expectations of the future.

      Old Stevens did what he could, Momoh did his part, and Koroma made gains and strides never seen before. He passed the baton to us, a wiser, younger, smarter generation that believes in accountability, integrity and good governance. A brighter sunshine is coming. Just you watch, wait and see! Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  2. What a resumption,it could not have come any sooner.It is really a lucky break for the Bio government and the country.

    The iron ore mining industry is coming back to life at a time when we have a government that is bent to set the country on a straight course,however bumpy that course may be or made to be by those whose expertise is to make the country ungovernable because the Anti Corruption Commission [ACC] is forever inching closer to them – and they know that their hands are not clean,it is only a matter of time before they are roped in to answer some questions.

    This first export not only mitigates but completely neutralises the notion that investors are increasingly finding Sierra Leone lacking the necessary prerequisites to make itself attractive to foreign investors.The perpetrators of this idea are those who do not have any inkling that all the major embassies and high commissions in Freetown are constantly monitoring everything through well trained intelligence officers who pass off as diplomats,but whose real job is to discern anything that could lead to anarchy in the country in order to warn their home government promptly to stop their nationals from doing any major business in the country.

    These officers must have seen how the state’s security decisively dealt with the unruliness of APC recently,sending them scurrying indoors like an animal disappearing into its burrow to avoid becoming the meal of a predator.They must have reported to their various centres that all APC moves to destabilise the country are empty bravado.

    This is why the country should be able to attract bidders from Europe for the construction of the Lungi bridge.The resumption of export of iron ore is the latest corroborating evidence.

    With time, the foreign currency earned from iron ore should help our terms of trade and balance of payments enormously, enabling our central bank to support and defend the Leone on foreign markets not only to stabilise it but to let it appreciate too, which in turn should help curb uncontrollable inflation, since we import most of our current needs.

    I could not agree more with those who are advocating for the ore to be processed in Sierra Leone.To them I say let us give it time, let us be patient. If President Bio is pushing for our diamonds to be processed locally, I have no doubt that in time he will forcefully push for our ore to be processed in the country.

    The thieves of our natural resources, local and foreign, are on their last legs. In time no massive diamond will ever again disappear between State House and Lungi Airport.

  3. Export, export, export, thats all we talk about. No one is taking about processing the raw material in our country. One thing our educated fools should know is, it is not just iron present in the raw material. Thats why the developed nations are shipping the raw material to their country for refining.

    Reference to the article “as related concentrates”. Blue ore does not just have 65% iron. There are other materials present in it. Only a chemistry student can understand this.

    Africans should start becoming wise and stop developing the west and east. Do you think if crude oil was refined in the west, the desert Arabian countries would have been developed as they are today?

  4. Are you seriously crediting Maada Bio for this shipment? You must be a sycophant and a praise singer to the highest degree.

    • Yes Preaident Bio is to be credited for such a wonderful work he is doing. Think of another thing. Believe it, SL is going to be developed. We are talking about SL development. We know you are member of APC that dont want to hear about SL development.

    • Mr Papanii Kamara, you must be realistic with your conscience in whatever you do or write. A president must take responsibility and credit for whatever happens under his/her watch. I don’t know what your mindset was when reading my comment.

      What happens if it was a negative news? Will you accept the Bio administration blaming the former APC government for it, or just accepting the mess and rectify it.

      Even if the process was started by the APC which is possible but, the result came during the Bio administration. So, they have to take credit for that. PERIOD. I hope you think properly the next time before making any vague judgement.

      Moreover, it seems to me that your criticism is narrow minded on the issue. Please consider and think properly whenever you pen down any comment. That will save you time, energy and space on this platform for other people to contribute wisely.

      Mr. Papanii Kamara there, confused about using the word sycophant and praise singer. Thanks and may GOD GUIDE YOU Mr. Papanii Kamara.

  5. This is a fantastic achievement by the Bio administration. As the editor rightly said, President Bio deserves credit. The resumption of Iron Ore export is welcome news for the country. Foreign exchange will be generated which will help the country with its development projects and paying it’s debts.

    Over time, the government will be able to build the Lungi Bridge from its savings. Is that not COOL and COZY?
    Thumbs up for the Bio administration. GOD BLESS SIERRA LEONE.

  6. It is good for the government to embark on improving the economy, as the restarting of iron ore mining will help the youth of Sierra Leone gain more job employment in the country.

  7. Well, well, well, what have we here? It seems to me the children dressed in lucent green, are beginning to see things clearly and getting to understand that it is better for them to get on with their work and leave the pettiness and trivialities alone.

    China is already the world’s largest producer of Iron ore, but because of the huge demands for steel and iron world wide, China – a country with the largest population in the world and other industrialize nations would always be in desperate need of Sierra Leone’s high quality iron ore, in order to meet the demands of mega projects already in the works.

    To be precise, what these Super Power nations are producing is just not enough to whet their appetites for steel, plain and simple. I have to admit, this is good start; but iron ore exports alone will not be enough to jump start our economy and spearhead it forward towards significant and acceptable margins of economic progress, as is urgently needed right now.

    But let me also emphasize, Its not that bad a move at all. Although it won’t give us feathers and wings to soar and fly, it will provide us with wheels that can help us move and make steady, slow but sustainable progress. Let the SLPP continue to take care of their obligations to the nation – work, work and work.

    Quit the begging, the finger pointing, high interest loans and expensive projects we can’t afford, and you will not hear me. Nope, I will not utter a single word. I promise! Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

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