November 16, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai & Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
A new report released by Transparency International Sierra Leone titled ‘Mining Contract and Licenses Award Corruption Risk Assessment, recommends that mining companies should be forced to honour their corporate social responsibilities (CSR).
The report, which was launched on 7 November, 2017 notes that mining companies operating in this mineral rich country should sign a ‘community development agreement’ especially in areas such as health (construction of a health facility to aid women and children in particular), education, etc.
The report further states that effective sensitisation should be undertaken in mining communities to inform residents about all related issues of mining and the environment.
“There is thus an urgent need to domesticate Mining Acts, rules and policies at the local level to ensure proper understanding of the same,” the corruption Risk Assessment Report states.
The report highlights that the need for the Mines and Minerals Act of 2009 to be reviewed not only to address “missing link” between the Minerals Act and the National Minerals Agency (NMA), but to include the role of the Director General in the Act and hence make the NMA more effective in carrying out its operations.
“There is a need for gradual decentralisation of NMA to the regions and where necessary, establish offices in the mining affected communities or districts,” the report adds.
The report also notes that applicable rules or guidelines should be followed to the letter in order to reduce or prevent discretion by government officers as evidenced between theory and practice in the award of mining licences, thus underscoring the role of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in especially following the established procedures or rules governing the application process.
“The ACC should further ensure compliance of NMA at all levels regarding the awards process by extending the integrity pact to the National Minerals Agency,” the report states.
Mrs. Lavina Banduah, Executive Director of TI-SL, was quoted in the report as saying that, “Corruption Risk Assessment Report” on the mining sector of Sierra Leone is a credible document that endeavours to present a comprehensive analysis of the vulnerabilities and risks in the award of licences, permits and contracts to mining companies in the country.
“I am of the firm conviction that this report will bring to light the current realities of mining activities in the country relating to corruption risks in the award of mining contracts, permits and licenses,” the Executive Director was quoted as saying.