Amin Kef: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 February 2019:
SL Mining has announced the commencement of mining at the Marampa mines in Lunsar, Sierra Leone, following completion of Phase one of an investment programme designed to rehabilitate and reconfigure operations.
A wholly owned subsidiary of Gerald Group, SL Mining has completed construction ahead of schedule and is now ramping up production of ‘Marampa Blue’, a high-grade iron ore with over 65% Fe concentrate, one of the highest grades in the world, and a first by any mining company in Sierra Leone.
A delegation from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the World Bank visited the Marampa site earlier this month, to see how the mine has been brought back to life.
Gayle Martin, Sierra Leone Country Manager, World Bank, and Frank Ajilore, IFC Country Representative in Sierra Leone, led the delegation to gain insights on private sector challenges in the mining sector.
Mining accounts for 77% of exports from Sierra Leone. “Our position is that private sector development is the engine for economic growth,” said Martin.
Gerald Group’s commitment to spend approximately $300m during Phases I and II, is aimed at bringing the project into production with a sustained output of 2 million tonnes per annum in Phase I, growing to 6 million tonnes per annum in Phase II.
From fewer than 70 employees in 2018, SL Mining currently employs over 650 workers to meet the growing demand of the operations and expects headcount to reach 1,000 in the next few months, and to over 1,800 once mining operations enter into the second phase.
The project estimates resources at about one billion tonnes of iron ore grading 32% Fe, with potential to expand the resource, for production over the next 30 years.
Craig Dean, Chairman, SL Mining and Chairman and CEO, Gerald Group commented: “We are very excited to deliver the Marampa restart ahead of schedule and on budget. SL Mining has already demonstrated the investment has led to significant job creation in Sierra Leone and has generated other direct benefits to surrounding communities.
“We would like to thank the Government of Sierra Leone, the local communities, the World Bank and International Finance Corporation for their continued support of Marampa. Once SL Mining is optimized for Phase-II, our goal is to make Sierra Leone’s ‘Marampa Blue’, an internationally recognized premium iron ore brand.”
“SL Mining is a good economic development that should receive maximum support,” said Mr. Ajilore, IFC Sierra Leone, adding, “It sends the right signal to foreign direct investors that it is back to business in Sierra Leone.” SL Mining needs a supportive business environment to meet its objectives, including access to the African Rail and Port Services (ARPS) on commercially viable terms. With over 1 billion tonnes of iron ore reserves, SL Mining can significantly expand the export of Marampa Blue from Sierra Leone to the global market.
SL Mining, a limited liability company incorporated in Sierra Leone, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Gerald Group engaged in the exploration, development and production of iron ore concentrate at Marampa in the Port Loko District, the northern province of Sierra Leone.
In March 2017, Gerald Group was awarded a renewable Cale Mining License granted under the Mines and Minerals Act, 2009, for a term of 25 years and the National Parliament of Sierra Leone unanimously ratified SL Mining’s Mining Licence Agreement, emphasising the strong support for the Marampa project locally, and reflecting its significant importance to the national economy.
Gerald Group is one of the world’s largest independent and employee-owned metal trading houses. Founded in 1962 in the United States, Gerald moved headquarters to London in 2017.
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.