Sierra Leone’s President His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has Thursday officially given his fatherly blessing to one of the country’s largest mining companies with the commissioning of the London Mining operations at Marampa Mine, Lunsar, Port Loko District, Northern Sierra Leone
Delivering his keynote address before officially commissioning the company’s operations, President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma recalled when he assumed office as Head of State, he first of all tried and engaged the appropriate authorities to review the mines and minerals Act of Sierra Leone so that every citizen of the state will be able to benefit from the minerals of the country.
The new mines and mineral policy, the President stated, should be carefully studied and well understood by Paramount Chiefs, the mining companies and even the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources so as to enhance proper public sensitization on the laws governing the mining industry in Sierra Leone pointing out that the review is a continuous process.
President Koroma said the reopening of the Marampa Mine by London Mining Company has long been the great expectations of the people of not only Lunsar and Port Loko District but the country as a whole as all and sundry have been looking forward to such a momentous occasion in the new history of Sierra Leone.
‘We are going to have so many of these celebrations in years to come’, he promised, whiles recollecting how the whole mining sector was in a state of total collapse when he took up office as President. ‘I decided that there must be some reform in the mining industry’, vowed President Koroma.
The new mines and mineral Act, according to the Head of State, is set to limit or forestall irregularities in the industry, reiterating that the policy needs to be properly comprehended by all those concerned in the sector. President Koroma said; ‘some of us who are old enough knew what DELCO meant and what exactly it did when it was in full operation in Marampa.
DELCO, President Koroma, remembered was a place that was full of buoyant activities, and used to offer so many training and job opportunities for a lot of people who were serving other sectors of the then economy, but things went bad in 1975 when it closed down completely. He said all attempt to revive the mine at Marampa but were unsuccessful, describing the reopening of the Marampa mine by London Mining Company as a mark of demonstration of the company’s determination and capability to fully engage itself in resuscitating the mine and help in developing the community and the country as a whole. He added that the $80m investment at the cradle stage of the company’s operation is expected to offer so many job opportunities, which will in turn make people happy as it is a great move for Sierra Leone.
‘I am happy that we as a country and government have taken steps at the Consultative Group Meeting held in London November 2009, that have created the environment for investment in Sierra Leone,’ said the Head of State, noting that London Mining Company has given other potential investors zeal to come and invest in Sierra Leone.
Issuing a rather stern warning to both local and international staff of the company, President Koroma made it clear that it is the responsibility of everybody to be transparent with the company and that if one is employed there as a stores keeper should do all he or she could to make sure that the store is intact by maintaining law and orders of the company, in order to work as professionals so the other people will not hesitate to do business in Sierra Leone.
‘I am in a hurry for the way how I want things to happen like clock but I am being slow down by certain things that are holding me back, so let us go ahead straight and use 2010 as a year of implement all our development programmes and that anybody who is not steadfast and does not want to get on board will be electricuted by current and will by fall by the way side’, the President maintained.
President Koroma further implored the people of Sierra Leone and Lunsar in particular to take London Mining Company as ‘our baby’ and saying;’ ‘it should be well protected by everybody in order to maintain trust so as to win the confidence of the company whiles we stand the chance to earn huge benefit from the hopes that have been given us by the mining company,’ hence pledged the total support of his government and people of Sierra Leone to London Mining Company.
In recognition of the presence of all one hundred and fourty-five Paramount Chiefs at the commissioning ceremony, the Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources Hon. Alpha Kanu earlier said the occasion marked a great leadership of President Koroma which is why the chiefs were present at the event to celebrate with him.
The Resident Minister North, Hon. Alie Kamara said the reopened of the mine at Marampa is not just for Lunsar alone, but for the whole of Sierra Leone adding that the company is here to stay and help push the country forward.
The Minister of Finance, Development and Economic Planning, Dr. Samura Kamara observed that the mining company will contribute significantly to the national economy of Sierra Leone by providing huge sum of income to the state ‘and enhance expansion of our fiscal phase’.
Answering to some of the most critical questions and concerns, Dr. Samura said that London Mining Company will be undertaking series of cooperate responsibilities through the construction of infrastructural development such as roads, bridges, hospitals, schools to name just a few.
‘Our marriage with London Mining Company demonstrates the desperate need for development for the benefit of all our partners’, remarked the Finance, Economic and Development Minister.
The Minority Leader in Parliament Hon. Sheku B.B. Dumbuya said President Koroma has been doing everything strictly, to keep in consonance with the reopening of the mine at Marampa which was once the bread basket of Sierra Leone. He predicted that things will change soon for the better.
He added that the resuscitation of the mine at Marampa will help alleviate poverty in the country noting; ‘as long as President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma continues as President of Sierra Leone, the country will soon regain its past glories and life in general will be better for every Sierra Leonean’.
On behalf of Paramount Chiefs from the Eastern region, PC Mohamed Daphie Banya praised President Koroma for initiating a sound vision to restore the past credence of the country, especially the reopening of the Marampa mine. This, among other developmental stride that have been push forward by the the President, is why he has always won the support of the House of Parliament in passing all bills into laws, adding, ‘this is the time for Sierra Leone to develop.
He said the reason why past leaders of the country have not been inviting them is because they had nothing to tell or show to the people but whenever they are called upon by President Koroma he will embarrass them with development news’.
PC Kangbai Macavory the III on behalf of the Southern region chiefs lauded President Koroma for his role in the reopening of the Marampa mine after thirty-five years which he said is not easy, thus; ‘we should join him with full support in observing this national celebration with London Mining’. He however fervently prayed that the President continues to rule Sierra Leone until things turn for good.
For his part, the Mayor of Freetown Municipality George Herbert Williams said development is swinging everywhere in Sierra Leone and therefore thanked President Koroma for not forgetting to put in place developmental programmes in the country.
Paramount Chief Bai Kurr Kanagbaro Sanka III called on London Mining to not only export the raw material but also produce steel metal, especially for construction purposes, to minimize the cost of production of building materials and at the same time create national employment for young people from across the country.
In an overview of London Mining Company, Chief Executive Officer Graeme Hossie registered his gratitude to the government and people of Sierra Leone for welcoming his mining company in Sierra Leone, re-emphasizing that they are in the country to stay and work with the people.
Mr. Hossie said his company has so far set aside $80m for the first phase of the operations of the company for the first twelve months, adding that London Mining Company is not a short term investment but a long one with full commitment.
‘We have been spending to bring Marampa mine back in operation in order to create value so that everybody can benefit from the company,” he maintained, and thus called for the support of the community.
He further spoke of the company’s cooperate social responsibilities ranging from the erection of school, hospitals, roads and also to provide other basic social amenities.