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Tuesday, November 30, 2021
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Chiefs hail Vimetco Le1 billion Foundation support

By Victoria Saffa

Paramount Chief Tommy M. Jombla and Paramount Chief John Russel-Nyama of Lower Banta Chiefdom and four others in the Moyamba District have applauded Sierra Mineral Holdings I Limited (SMHL) – the only bauxite mining company in Sierra Leone – for what they referred to as ‘positive impact in our mining communities’.

In an open letter written to the management of the company, the chiefs among other things highlighted major successes of the company within their communities.

“The timely payment of the annual surface rent, up-to-date payment of crop compensation, repaired roads leading to most of the surrounding villages, support to various organizations and institutions within its operational area and the Le1 billion to the Foundation’s account that is used for the implementation of development projects within their chiefdoms.”

That notwithstanding, the chiefs added that SMHL – as a way of enhancing the existing healthy relationship with their communities – boosts support to its Community Affairs Department to effectively engage them on issues relating to the company, especially visiting their communities regularly to update them about its activities.

According to the chiefs, this will enhance the established relationship between the communities and the company.

Meanwhile, the traditional rulers encouraged the company to increase its job opportunities for community members that are to be employed below supervisory levels and as security guards.

Similarly, the Paramount Chief John J. Russel-Nyama has also complimented the company for adhering to its corporate social responsibility in the affected communities in his chiefdom, while minimizing the impacts of the projects implementation.

He said the company has set up the Foundation for sustainable community development that will continue after post-mine in their communities. He maintained that through SMHL communications network among stakeholders in the five mining chiefdoms, they are informed as well as participate in the activities of the company during public meetings held regularly.

PC Tommy M. Jombla said over the past years, SMHL has played a key role in the development of their communities. He said as part of SMHL’s community engagement, they have benefitted from how to identify and prioritize community development needs and opportunities and identify potential and negative social impact of the mining operations and mitigation strategies.

He however committed his chiefdom’s support to the company and encouraged government institutions, NGOs and civil society groups that are involved in the operations of SMHL to provide what he referred to as ‘sound investment environment’.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has renewed the license of Sierra Mineral Holdings 1- Vimetco for the period 2014-2015.

Mr. Sidi Turay of the Environmental Health and Safety Department of SMHL said: “In fulfillment of the EPA Act 2010, we have reclaimed about 30% of the mined-out pits.”

The closing and reclamation of mined-out sites were done by backfilling the pits with overburdened material followed by topsoil for the purpose of achieving topography similar to that before mining, he added.

He expressed optimism that 2014 will be a good year for Vimetco as they would have doubled the amount of acres reclaimed, and improved greatly on reforestation.

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