Sierra Leone to start adding value to bauxite production – creating thousands of jobs

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.

12 Comments

  1. I rather deal directly with electricity power plants industrialists and not dead-broke company. President Bio please call on cross section of Sierra Leonean engineers. Together you can review this deal.

  2. Our company Ventrae Capital (SL) Ltd have the funders and EPC for your need of 15MW Solar PV Plant at average cost of $1.4 million per MW. With solid PPA we can supply.

    • The race for contracts have already started. I am also interested Johan in providing the POWER PLANT when the OFFER is made.
      Secondly, I will provide the GOVERNMENT or VIMETCO with my estimates at a later date. There are some feasibility studies to be made before providing any estimates.

      My intention is to provide a fuel power plant where HEAVY FUEL will be used to heat water until it becomes steam to turn the turbines that will generate approximately 50MW of electricity. This type of Electricity generation will be the best and is practicable in the environment where the refinery will be built. However, I have to wait for VIMETCO or the GOVERNMENT provide more details on the capacity of the REFINERY.

    • I will be more than willing to be part of this project as a volunteer installation trainer, adviser and an installer; making sure that the solar plant is installed safely and with quality equipment – for free and that will be my help to my country. Being a solar installer for 7 years in the United States, it is time to work for my country.

  3. High time now Sierra Leone enjoyed its natural wealth. With the new leader everything seems all right and going on well. I am really happy to read this news and do hope everybody involved will do their best to make it function. With the correct leader, the people in general will see how things are moving and in the correct direction.

    With our brother´s presidency, it had been the blessing of Allah to make him see his work come out and function. I agree with our brother the president on everything he is doing, because I know he means business and for the whole country.

  4. If Aluminium is a lightweight metal, soft and malleable. That can be used in a huge variety of products including cans, foils, kitchen utensils, window frames, beer kegs and aeroplane parts. This is because of particular properties. These are products of our everyday life countless objects that simplify as well as increase the quality of our daily life are partly made of aluminum, CDs, cars, refrigerators, kitchen ware, electric power lines, packaging for food and medicine, computers, furniture and aircrafts. Aluminium in construction is the second most used metal in buildings after steel, because its ductility and it can be formed into many shapes and profiles. Aluminium wall cladding systems are commonly used for building exteriors, with large wall panels requiring fewer joints, resulting in time-efficient installation.

    Aluminium is importance because, it is a very malleable and ductile metal. Aluminium is quite remarkable because of its low density and in its ability to resist corrosion through the phenomenon of passivation. The oxides and sulphates of aluminium are the most useful compounds. Aluminium and its alloys are vital to the aerospace industry.

    Aluminium it is safe for our health. Oral exposure to Aluminum is usually not harmful. Some studies not proven show that people exposed to high levels of aluminum may develop Alzheimer’s disease, but other studies have not found this to be true. We do not know for certain that, aluminum causes Alzheimer’s disease.

    My questions are why can’t we as a nation build at least kitchen utensils and refrigerator industries in Sierra Leone? For we are also customers, likewise entrepreneurs and exporters, it is an added revenue and weight to our currency.

    To the acquisition company, my question, please tell us, what does it cost to generate 15 megawatts electricity? And what is the World market price for 1 ton of aluminium? Indicate labourers, machinery and any other costs? Please I am not against your investment in Sierra Leone likewise don’t you think or allude that , I shouldn’t count aluminium as industrial Sierra Leone. Treat with dignity the country that add value to your income. If it is required for bigger cooperation, then go for it and with values. God bless

  5. Industrial investment is ok for Sierra Leone, but it has to be bauxite or aluminium? This production is not very good for the environment and to produce 1 ton of aluminium you need about 15 megawatts of electricity. The company will provide this necessary electricity, also for the surrounding villages?

    • Indeed Reinhard. VIMETCO needs a lot of power to produce 1 ton of ALUMINA.
      According to the writer, it seems to me that VIMETCO is going to construct an ALUMINA REFINERY. This is where INDUSTRIAL AUTOMATION kicks in. HIGH TECH.
      I don’t know for the time being how many tons of ALUMINA they are going to produce annually and what type of process they are going to adopt.

      What, I do know is that, the REFINERY at FRIA in the Republic of Guinea uses the BAYER PROCESS. Also, the plant produces 640,000 tonnes of ALUMINA per year.
      They have an oil power generation plant of 47 MW which does not only supply the power needs of the company, but also the town FRIA and its surroundings.
      I will give my own advice or suggestions when more details are known.

      As you rightly said Reinhard, pollution is a factor in these types of industries. That is why President Bio should not rush into this deal. All areas of concerned must be taken into consideration and the solutions negotiated before the final deal. Otherwise, people will have jobs which is a good thing, but will be left SICK over time. The engineering and technical know how is not new to me. We shall discuss more as more details emerge.

      Finally, I hope VIMETCO releases more details on their intended annual ALUMINA production targets so that we can help with valuable suggestions.
      Going to Guinea and asking the Guineans will be very helpful. Well qualified and trained Sierra Leoneans have worked there and are still working there today. Any delegation sent will just feel at home.

  6. With the right sets of smart and God-fearing leaders, Sierra Leone should have been an industrial nation. Yet, the current atmosphere is the right time to industrialize Sierra Leone. It’s simple and easy because we’re human beings in need of various wants and commodities.

    Let us therefore use our mineral and human resources to manufacture things that we need to supply ourselves and for exporting. It’s cruel for our next generation if we fail to pave the way for industrialisation, in a Silently competitive World we’re living.

    Industrialisation of Sierra Leone would enable us to acquire knowledge transfer, profitability, owners/stake holders, taxation, business laws, accident and pension insurances, energy supply, suitable transportation, land and housing, etc. These are all major forms of revenue generation for our nation given that greater percentage of these businesses are setup, managed or part owned by Sierra Leoneans.

    I stand in support of President Bio’s local content policy. There’s only one Sierra Leone, therefore, let us learn to love ourselves so much that politics or any other issue cannot or shouldn’t break our bond, as we work towards building a successful nation.

    You cannot live to hate or destroy yourself hoping that other people will give you the maximum support you so desired. Frantic no.

    • Abdul Bangura, your sentiments expressed here are some of the most mature and patriotic I’ve seen from a Sierra Leonean on any forum. I say mature for they avoid the small mindedness of excessive partisanship and ethno-regionalism. There’s just too much politics in our country, forcing most to have a jaundiced appreciation of every national issue. Thanks for your views.

  7. Thank you so much Mr Bio, signing such contract is sweet reggae music by the late Bob Marley which the youths would like to dance to every time. “Gron dry, na for soke am wit water”.

    Should this project kick start as scheduled, it is going to be a huge start which the people have been waiting for and will be underlined as pledge number one from the SLPP manifesto completed. Gradually we will be there. May God guard and guide you to move this country forward. I am assured you could do it. It is matter of time.

  8. Great move by President Bio and the SLPP government. Any form of investment is what Sierra Leone needs right now.What is very important for the government is to make sure a better DEAL is negotiated.

    The project the government wants to embark on, is similar to the one in FRIA, Republic of Guinea. The company in FRIA is owned by RUSSAL. It will be a great idea to send a delegation to The Republic of Guinea for tete a tete discussions on this type of projects.

    Our government must negotiate the CONSTRUCTION of a MODERN HOSPITAL and FOOD WAREHOUSE for the employees and their families. With the FOOD WAREHOUSE, the workers will have access to food items(RICE, OIL, BUTTER, SUGAR,COFFEE, MILK etc) and with the hospital, the employees and their families will have FREE MEDICAL CARE. Construction of a hospital and other amenities must be top of the agenda.

    What the government must not accept is for VIMETCO to suggest that, they would like to build the hospital and other amenities for the district as a whole. By doing so, they will shift the responsibility for the upkeep of the hospital for e.g. on the government down the road. All of their projects and amenities must be for the company. This is very important. They can help the district if they want to.

    Again, President Bio MUST not make a mistake by not adding the construction of a modern hospital and FOOD WAREHOUSE amongst other projects in the initial package for the workers. Because, it is a deal that is going to last 20 years or more, the government must make sure that the deal benefits the country and its people.

    I was hoping that the government should have made a PUBLIC OFFER so that COMPANIES like ALCAN, PECHENEY, RIO TINTO and RUSSAL will compete. By doing so, the government should have made some comparison and choose the best. Since that did not happen, we will accept what we have for now.

    Thank you very much President Bio and all those who made this project possible.
    Finally, GOD BLESS SIERRA LEONE. AMEN AND AMEN.

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