February 26, 2021
By Yusufu S. Bangura
National Minerals Agency (NMA), in collaboration with the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources, has on Thursday, 25th February, engaged the media, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and stakeholders on the status of the mineral sector in Sierra Leone.
Updating the media, CSO and stakeholders at Brookfield’s Hotel, Director General of NMA, Julius Daniel Mattai, said the institution was established in 2013 to pursue policies and programmes aimed at making the country more attractive destination for mining investment, and also to promote the development of the minerals sector by effectively and efficiently managing the administration and regulation of mineral rights and the mineral sector.
He said they are committed to transforming the mineral sector to guarantee good returns on investment, while at the same time ensuring that people benefit from the mineral wealth.
He recalled that mining started in Sierra Leone in the 1930s and that over the years several companies have successfully explored for and mined minerals such as diamonds, gold, bauxite, iron-ore and rutile in huge quantities.
The director general said the mineral sector has been extremely topical over the years through fake news going round the social media, which makes people more confused.
He added that the mining sector is extremely large as they have a lot of things to cover like providing license to companies, ensuring human rights issues, among several others.
He said they have to work within the legislative framework that is very complicated and sometimes they find synergies with different Ministries, Departments and Agencies, adding that the mining sector is not working in isolations.
“Our aim is to cut down on the cost and time for mineral exploration by providing reliable geological data. We are aware that it takes more that the abundance of minerals in a particular country to attract investors and we have committed ourselves to providing sufficient guarantees of a business friendly environment characterized by predictable laws, fiscal stability, transparency, security of tenure,” he said.
He continued that when COVID-19 was not affecting the world, the agency was able to collect about 313billion USD on export because they were proactive, adding that over the years they have been doing well in their work.
“We have to invest in our people to make sure they live a better life and also invest in young people. We have a Mineral Act, but we are dealing with customary laws because the chiefs are the custodians of the law and sometimes we have issues with lands,” he noted.
Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Timothy Kabba, said change is a very difficult phenomenon and that when someone reaches a cross road there are two part to follow- the short part which will easily takes him or her to a comfort zone- and part of agony and pain which will take that person to a difficult zone.
He said since he became minister, he has never seen much press coverage on the mining sector, which, he said makes the public unaware about the mining sector, adding that they needed everyone to come onboard to making sure that the change be effective.
He continued that the mineral sector has been doing well and have contributed a lot to the national economy.
He said in a country where the economy is not well diverse, there will be so much pressure on the delivery to accelerate revenue collection for development purposes.
“I want all of us to know that we have a fight to fight, as for us in the mining sector we want to do things differently. We want to make sure that the mining sector contributes positively to the economy and to the development of the people in the country,” he said.
The minister of mines advised journalists to know some of the issues within the mining sector before reporting for the betterment of the country.