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Friday, July 1, 2022

MPs commits Minerals Development Bill for thorough scrutiny

By Jariatu S. Bangura

Lawmakers yesterday debated the Mines and Minerals Development Bill meant to address the numerous challenges faced by stakeholder in the mineral sector, although it was later committed to the Legislative Committee for further scrutiny and involvement of all stakeholders.

The bill aims to repeal and replace the Mines and Minerals  Act of 2009, provides for the facilitation of transparency in the mineral sector in accordance with international best practice, provides  for the introduction of new and improved provisions for exploration, mines and minerals development, sales and export for the socio-economic benefit of Sierra Leoneans.

It also aims at making provisions for the facilitation of transparent and accountable management of the minerals sector in accordance with international best practice and to provide for improved employment and employment practices in the mineral sector.

The bill further seeks to provide for improved welfare of communities affected by exploration, mining and related activities; to provide for more effective measures to reduce the harmful effects of exploration and mining activities on life, property and the environment and to provide for other related matters.

In his presentation, Minister of Mines and Minerals Resources, Timothy M. Kabbah, informed MPs that in 2009, they enacted the Mineral’s Act, which  provides the framework for regulations and other policies for the smooth governance of the sector.

He said the need for the review of the bill shouldn’t be over emphasized and that most chapters and sections in the previous Act do not synchronize with the current happenings in  the mineral sector, adding the call for a review is imminent  to make Sierra Leone a competitive player in the sector.

He stated that Section 4 deals with the administration of the sector where the Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources was said to be responsible for the administration of the sector.

He added that as at that time the National Minerals Agency (NMA was not in existence and that it was now strenuous that the administration for policy making does not extend to the supervision of the regulator of the sector.

He said the new bill  proposes that in consistent with the national constitution, the implementation and administration, oversight and regulation of exploration, mining and minerals trade including policy-making and inter-governmental coordination relevant to minerals development for the regulation of the sector, be the responsibility of the ministry whilst the NMA  preserves the regulatory powers.

He said the new bill also proposes for  the disclosure of beneficial ownership of companies.

”To ensure that companies that operate in Sierra Leone are legitimate and are owned by legitimate people, there is need for us to respect the standard of the EITI in the review of the new bill. Also, based on report from NGOs and CSOs on discrimination of women and vulnerable people in the sector, thus the bill sees the need to have a special chapter that will address those issues,” he said.

 Hon. Emerson Lamina said about 60 % values have been added to the bill and that the ministry has made provisions for locals not only those in the mining districts, but also others.

He said the bill discourages importation and encourages local content policy which is very good, adding that MPs have limited work to do because the ministry has already done the necessary job. 

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