Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 April 2019:
Sierra Mineral Holdings 1 Limited (Vimetco), a bauxite mining company in Moyamba, Sierra Leone held several meetings last week with the country’s Ministries of Finance and Mines in Freetown, to discuss the company’s expansion plans which will involve the construction of a value-adding alumina tri hydrate plant within its concession.
The raw material required to produce aluminium is aluminium oxide, also called alumina. It is a white powder produced by the refining of bauxite – a mineral found in Sierra Leone in very large quantities. Approximately two tons of alumina are needed to produce one ton of aluminum through an electrolytic process.
Sierra Leone is very rich in mineral resources. But without adding value to its vast wealth of natural resources, the country will remain poor.
This is about to change though, if discussions between the Bio led government of Sierra leone and Vimetco are successful.
Thousands of new jobs could be created by this new development, including supply chains in various communities that are in desperate need of employment and business growth opportunities.
Apart from the production of aluminum, alumina tri-hydrate is also widely used in refractory industry, production of ceramics, water purification, flame retardant filler and polishing compound, etc.
The construction of an alumina production plant equipped with modern technology will be the first in the development of the mining industry in Sierra Leone – capable of adding value to its mineral produce. It will also become a unique industrial facility in West Africa.
For the Southern province of Sierra Leone and the country as a whole, this development will also lead to the development of key infrastructures, such as schools, hospitals, roads, and bridges. But more importantly, it will generate millions of dollars in export revenue for the country.
Currently Sierra Mineral Holdings 1 Limited (Vimetco) provides more than 1,500 jobs, supports orphanages, schools and major social events in the country.
The company invests 1% of its revenue (which happens to be the highest in the mining industry) – about 5 billion Leones, towards community and social development.
Under the umbrella of a Community Development Committee, Sierra Mineral Holdings 1 Limited (Vimetco) has built a hospital, markets, water wells, social facilities including conference hall and cinema.
The Company pays around 75 Billion Leones annually in taxes to the government.
In developing the proposed alumina tri-hydrate plant, existing infrastructures within and around the concession are expected to be developed to support and meet the demands of the new bauxite value-adding plant.
Sierra Mineral Holdings 1 Limited (Vimetco) initiative will be supported by the Pan-African Bank of Development, Afrexim Bank, whose delegates also participated in the meetings last week with ministers.
Last Thursday, 4th of April 2019, the country’s president Julius Maada Bio, held a working meeting with management of Sierra Mineral Holdings 1 Limited (Vimetco) and delegates of Afrexim Bank, to discuss details of the project, which accordingly to State House report – was warmly received by the president.
Afrexim Bank was officially appointed by the Company to act as the financial advisor and lead mandated arranger in connection with raising capital for the project.
An engagement letter was signed between Sierra Mineral Holdings 1 Limited (Vimetco) and Afrexim Bank in the presence of president Julius Maada Bio, to symbolise the official launch of the project.
Construction of the plant is scheduled to start in 2020 with production expected to commence in June 2022. This project is expected to keep the operations of the Company in Sierra Leone for at least another 20 years or more.