By Jariatu S. Bangura
Senior officials from the Leone Rock Mining Company/Kingho Railway and Port Company Limited have told Members of the Parliamentary Committee on Mines and Minerals Resources that they are open to partnership with other partners for use of the railway.
Recently, the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice notified the company about the termination of the lease based on a provision on the lease agreement, after government has contracted a new company, Arise Integrated Industrial Platforms Limited, to take over management of the port.
According to the Director of Leone Rock Mining Company/ Kingho Railway and Port Company, Salim Sillah, their agreement with the government that was ratified by Parliament, was that they have two years of exclusivity and six years of operational rights and that the government was supposed to give a notice after the exclusivity.
“If the government wants to bring in a third party, they should have informed the Kingho Railway and Port as tenants and that was never done. We would have sat down with them and we would have explained to the new company what we have spent, and, if they want to take up our expenses, it is fine by us. They can either pay us in equity or pay us back our money because we cannot spend over $125m and just leave it like that for them to come and take it just like that,” he said.
He said they approached the government six months before the expiration, since they wanted to invest $57M, to speed up the expansion. He said they didn’t have free time to wait to do the expansion as stated by the other company to do it in 25 years.
He said the two years exclusivity gives them the right not to share with anybody, but during the six years operation time remaining, they were supposed to have engaged third party users not third party operators.
He informed the committee that they have been engaging the Marampa Mines and a bauxite company that is interested to mine in Port Loko over the past two months, and that they have visited their facilities and have discussed the technical aspect of the expansion process.
He said they were currently engaging another indigenous company that is interested to export dimension stones of which they were finding ways for them to do the export without using the Company’s wagon, which means that they were ready to accommodate many other players.
Meanwhile, the Committee commended the work done so far by the company especially in respect to the local communities they have operated by adhering to the corporate social responsibility as affirmed by the host Member of Parliament and others.
The committee also called on Kingho Mining Company to be friendly and avoid the press war and put all necessary documents together for submission to the Clerk’s office for them to look into the issue attentively.