Saidu Jalloh

In a press conference held at the Foreign Affairs Conference Hall on March 26, 2024, Julius Mattai, the Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources of Sierra Leone, unveiled a series of progressive reforms aimed at revitalizing the country’s mining sector. Addressing longstanding issues of limited benefits to the nation, environmental concerns, and economic sustainability, Mattai outlined a vision for a mining industry that prioritizes community welfare and environmental conservation while contributing significantly to economic development.

Mattai acknowledged the historical lack of substantial benefits to Sierra Leone from mining activities spanning over nine decades. He emphasized the necessity for mining operations to prioritize the interests of both the community and the environment, highlighting the imperative for sustainable development.

Recognizing the capital-intensive and risk-laden nature of mining ventures, Mattai lamented the absence of government shares in mining companies since the days of SLST and NDMC. He criticized certain investors for treating mining operations as charitable endeavors, often leveraging loans with little regard for long-term profitability.

The Minister reiterated Sierra Leone’s commitment to aligning with the African Mining Vision of 2009, emphasizing the importance of domesticating mining activities to ensure tangible benefits for sustainable development.

Mattai announced plans to enforce the National Minerals Act while balancing the interests of investors, stressing the need for updated regulations to prevent exploitation of Sierra Leone’s resources. He underscored the importance of geological surveys to identify mineral resources accurately before engaging in trade.

Encouraging local participation in mining activities, Mattai urged Sierra Leoneans to actively engage in the sector rather than relying solely on royalty payments. He expressed the government’s commitment to collaborating with Sierra Leoneans for mutual benefit.

The Minister also addressed challenges faced with Sierra Rutile, highlighting a contentious issue where the company threatened to halt operations unless given concessions. Mattai revealed that despite government support in the form of concessions, Sierra Rutile failed to comply with requests to reinstate them after recording substantial profits.

Sierra Rutile’s threat to suspend operations and make employees redundant without government consent drew criticism from Mattai, who emphasized the need for adherence to legal procedures.

The unveiling of these reforms signals a significant step forward for Sierra Leone’s mining sector, as the government aims to strike a balance between investor interests and national development goals while ensuring environmental sustainability and community welfare.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here