April 12, 2017
Residents of Gorama Mende in Kenema District have endorsed the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report for Seawright Mining Company, thus calling on the company to go ahead with their proposed Diamond and Gold exploration project.
The report which was prepared by a renowned environmental consulting firm, ECOSYS Sierra Leone Limited is in line with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Act of 2008 and amended in 2010.
The events took place on the 7th April, 2017 at Pondoru School , Gorama Mende Chiefdom, Kenema District.
Gorama Mende Chiefdom Speaker, Jeseph S. Koroma said they have agreed for Seawright to operate in their chiefdom.
“I am very much happy about this gathering. We have given you the green light to operate as a mining company in our chiefdom,” he said.
Representing the Environmental Protections Agency (EPA) Sierra Leone, Aiah Wurie Kembay, said EPA was not against mining but was there to protect the environment for the next generation, through the environmental impact assessment.
He urged his audience to be more attentive as they saw the disclosure as one that was very important, adding that no mining will take place if a company fails to conduct an assessment on the environment.
“If public disclosure does not take place, we will not know what the people want and expect, as our responsibility is to take care of the land and the people. Public disclosure is plain talk and face-to-face discussion,” he said.
He appealed to all that they should work in the interest of the community, hoping that they would not regret after the disclosure.
Paramount Chief of Gorama Mende Chiefdom, Kenema District, Madam Mariama Kamanda, welcomed the initiative by Seawright, noting that she was optimistic about the operation of the company in her Chiefdom.
PC Madam Mariama Kamanda reflected on the days when mining companies went to their chiefdom, mined and left without doing anything for them, but stated that Seawright Mining Company had gone to them with a difference.
“Seawright mining is undertaking a lot of developmental projects in our community such as the construction of roads, schools and water facilities, among others,” she said.
She urged her subjects to make good use of the opportunity given to them by the company.
Chief Operation Officer of the company, William Brown Kamanda, disclosed that Seawright is an American based company, but was being managed by a Sierra Leonean and that it started operations in 2013.
Kamanda spoke about the cordial relation they wanted with the community in which they operate, promising to create jobs for the locals when they shall have been graduated into full scale mining.
He added that they were previously operating under the name, Sewa Mining, but changed to Seawright Mining Company in 2016.
“Our exploration is diamond and gold and that is our primary focus. In 2013, we came as a company,” he said.
He added that, “We are strengthening the relationship with the communities; our doors are always opened to the community people. There are lots of developments that have taken place in this community including road rehabilitation, fixing of imported bridges, and supporting education. We have more things to do and plans are on the pipe line,” he said.
He said they were only exploring at the moment, thus speaking about ongoing projects for the community including the construction of six class room blocks, toilets, staff room and office at Foyama.
He said they would be paying Le 50 Million yearly to the chiefdom and that each of the 14 land owners would receive Le 5 Million yearly.
“It is only with your compliance and support you will make things happen. We have lot in mind. With your support it will not just be words but action,” he said
Team Leader for the Public Disclosure Report, Anthony Davies of ECOSYS (SL) Ltd, said Seawright mining area and license was previously acquired by the Sewa Mining Company, which mainly used artisanal/local methods for mining the minerals.
Seawright Mining presently has bought the entire share from Sewa Mining Company and owned 100% shares.
He disclosed that the company intended to embark on exploration of the mining concession of the Exploration license EL 45/11 for the next three years. The exploration activities, he added, were targeted to capture Diamonds, Gold and any other chance finding.
The proposed exploration activities would commence in the South-Eastern part of Sierra Leone, along the Sewa River, Between Kenema and Kono Districts in brief, prospecting for Diamonds, Gold and any chance finding.
“The Seawright Mining Company is committed to design and operate the proposed development to the same standard as obliged by the GoSL and the regulatory Agencies-EPA and NMA. SWM is also committed to comply with all applicable legal and regulatory requirements that are obtained in Sierra Leone. This commitment also applies to the expatriate contractor. The design and operational criteria for the exploration processes and facility have been based upon guidance provided by various GoSL authorities, legislative and regulatory considerations identified below, and the World Bank and International Finance Corporation performance standards,” he said.
He went on to say that Seawright Mining Company acknowledged their responsibility to the environment and also to the EPA Act, 2008 and 2010.
He said the developers have identified and examined all the potential environmental impacts associated with the proposed exploration project and the operation of various exploration equipment and facilities, and have addressed those concerns in this assessment report.