July 2, 2019
By Ibrahim Tarawallie
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has announced a $60million investment with Sierra Rutile, a subsidiary of Iluka Resources Limited, to aid the operation and ambitious expansion of the company’s activities in Sierra Leone, as well as community development.
A subscription agreement was yesterday (July 1, 2019) signed by the two organizations at the Radisson Blu mammy Yoko Hotel in Freetown and the investment by the IFC will represent a 10 percent stake in the company.
In his statement, IFC Senior Manager and Global Head of Natural Resources, Lance Crist said: “We have been working here in Sierra Leone for over 20 years and we are happy to be here today to start this partnership with Sierra Rutile. We have committed ourselves to invest $60million, which will represent a 10% stake in the company. We have already invested $20million as we signed the agreement today and we hope to provide the further $40 million to support the company’s ambitious expansion plans.”
He said the funds that would be provided are aimed at rehabilitating and expanding existing operation of the company, adding that it fit well into the country’s national development programmes.
He added that the project would also help improve the management of mineral resources in the country and fostering private sector growth.
“With this project, we anticipate approximately $500million investment in the country. It will also secure the country’s position as a world leader in rutile business. We hope that this project will bring positive development to the country by improving significant additional tax and royalty revenue to the government and more than 50,000 more jobs,” Mr. Crist noted.
Iluka’s Managing Director, Tom O’Leary said partnering with IFC will provide benefits to his company, as well as the people of Sierra Leone by promoting the continued, sustainable development of Sierra Rutile operation.
He stated that IFC has unparalleled expertise and experience in community and stakeholders engagement in developing countries, which will complement Sierra Rutile’s own activities in these areas.
“We are committed sustainable development throughout our operations and in communities where we have our presence. We have contributed over 50 scholarships in supporting Sierra Leone’s free quality education programme. We are conscious of Sierra Rutile’s significance to the national economy of Sierra Leone,” he said.
On her part, World Bank’s Country Manager, Gayle Martin said: “Revenue mobilization is a critical objective of the government long term strategy.”
She stated that motivated by the inefficiency of revenue mobilization in the mining sector, the World Bank’s Group country diagnostic look at strengthening and managing the mineral resource sector.
She added that through the bank’s support, the government created the National Minerals Agency, which has been in operation over the past few years and the launch of mining and minerals policy in 2018 and according to her, it will go a long way towards strengthening the fiscal regime and improve transparency in the sector.
Minister Mines and Mineral Resources, Ho. Foday Rado Yokie, welcomed the partnership between IFC and Sierra Rutile/Iluka Resources and pledge the government full support towards its success.
He also pledge his ministry’s support to Sierra Rutile in ensuring that their investment is safe but warned that they should not take advantage of the country’s vulnerability.