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Monday, July 4, 2022
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Leone Rock pays Le5billion to Tonkolili mining communities

By Alhaji Haruna Sani

Leone Rock Metal Group, formerly Kingho Investment Company, has on Tuesday, May 24, officially handed over the total sum of Le 5,392,472,315.26 (Five Billion Three Hundred and Ninety-Two Million Four Hundred and Seventy-Three Thousand Three Hundred and Fifteen Leones Twenty-Six Cent as a Community Development Agreement (CDA) fund to three chiefdoms in the Tonkolili District, Northern Province of Sierra Leone.

Leone Rock Metal Group is the first mining company to pay 1% of its total income as community development fund to it mining communities. The CDF is by law 0.01% but  Leone Rock Metal Group raised the percentage so that communities will carry out more developmental projects.

The CDA Fund was launched by President Bio at the Ferengbia minning site and the event attracted the presence of Government Ministers, Parliamentarians where stakeholders from the three iron ore mining chiefdoms of Dansogoia, Sambaia and Simiria converged mining to receive their money from the company’s staff.

In his welcome address to President Bio and his entourage,Paramount Chief Alimamy Bockarie Yallan Koroma of Dansogoia Chiefdom expressed appreciation over the increment of the CDA fund from o.o1% to 1%, which he said happened under President Bio’s tenure in governance. He said prior to President Bio’s leadership there was no proper agreement and no good relationship between the mining companies and the various communities.

He said when the Leone RocK Metal Group took over from African Minerals Limited and Shangadom they left serious problems with relocated mining communities facing serious problems including undeveloped farm lands without documents, water problem and lack of respect for workers.

He added that the relocated communities are still facing housing problems. He said some other burning issues in the mining site are under employment of female workers, labor law not working effectively, two years surface rent not paid among others.

He warmly welcomed President Bio and his entourage and craved on the indulgence of the president to take immediate action on the complained put across to him.

Officially launching the CDA fund, President Bio commended the Leone Rock Metal Group on their strived to begin operations in the mid of Covid-19 when most mining companies were shutting down. He also commended them for creating job opportunities and creating alternative livelihood support for Sierra Leoneans.

“We are therefore most pleased to work with Leone Rock Metal who in spite financial shocks of the global Covid-19 pandemic made such major investment. The investment plan of Leone Rock Metal is commendable. We want to make sure that mining is sustainable, seats well in our environment and provides necessary support for environment and for our community to strive”, he maintained.

President Bio promised to engage the management of the Leone Metal Group so as to reach to a befitting agreement for both the mining company and the communities.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Leone Rock Metal Group, Gilbert Zhao said  it is a great honour to not only be part of  historic moment, but also as a fulfillment to give to the people of that wonderful mining communities what they truly deserve.

“Our company is a “TALK LESS AND DO MORE” company. Our company has stumbled few times in our history in Sierra Leone and have even fall down sometimes but we have always risen up stronger, better, and bigger each time. So, I do not want you to judge us by the few times we fall down due to factors beyond our control but judge us by the many times we rise up again and again,” he stated.

He said between October to December 2021 when everyone was scared of even investing, the Leone Metal Group company was busy shipping spares and flying in experts in the middle of a Covid-19 pandemic to restart the Tonkolili Iron Ore Mine.

He said despite the collapse of the Iron Ore price last year, for six months they still endured painful market price, adding that rainy season also made the company so powerless against nature and sent export to the lowest that it became very hard to even sustain a mine.

President, China Kingho Energy Group, Colin Ding said it is a passion of the chairman and management of the company to make significant developmental impact in Sierra Leone and especially the communities the work in.

“This moment is important because firstly, we are the first company in the history of mining in the Northern Province to pay 1% in annual revenue to our communities even before it becomes a law. Secondly, we made a history to be the first company to make a CDA payment to the Tonkolili Iron Ore Mining Communities that that can accessible today because the money is already in their account,” he maintained.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, today, we are making a symbolic payment of 5,392,472,315 (Five billion, three hundred and ninety-two million, four hundred and seventy-two thousand and three hundred and fifteen Leones) as our CDA for the privilege to mine your God given natural resource which is the largest amount of money paid to this mining community in one year. I want you to note that this payment covers only 9 months of operation in 2021 within which we had several months of interruptions that impacted our export and revenue,” he added.

He said despite the fact that the company’s production target for 2022 is between 6-8 Million Tonnes, maintaining that the additional good news is not done because, they are currently installing tailings optimisation plant which will help produce and export +62% Iron concentrate.  

Responding to the payment of the surface rent, Honourable Rose Marie Bangura of Constituency 055 covering Simiria and Dansogoia chiefdoms commended Leone Rock Metal Group for the huge sum paid to her communities.

The Member of Parliament (MP) decried the health facility problem in her communities and pleaded to President Bio to help improve the Peripheral Health Unit (PHU) in Bumbuna which she says was facing tremendous pressure from several communities.

Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources Musa Timothy Kabba said the mining sector under President Bio has shown reliance because all players were allowed to play their role independently. He said without political interference, mining sector will develop immunity to withstand any shock that may come by it.

“We don’t want the maladministration that affected Kono and other South-Eastern towns to be repeated in the Tonkolili Districts or any other districts. The issue of resettlement of mining communities is a mere social injustice to the people,” he said.

He commended Leone Rock for giving out 1% to the community even when it was yet to be prescribed as law.

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