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TI launces corruption risk report on Sierra Leone’s mining sector

November 8, 2017 By Mohamed Massaquoi

TI
Madam Lavina Banduah

Transparency International Sierra Leone Chapter yesterday launched a survey report on corruption risk assessment on the award of mining licenses, contracts and permits under the mining and sustainable development programme in the country.

The ceremony was held at the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) conference hall in Freetown, where participants from various civil society organisations and affected mining communities converged.

Details of the survey showed that most residents in mining communities are not aware about the existence of documents indicating the obligations of mining companies in their respective communities, thus serving as a strong risk of corruption in the mining sector.

TI’s Executive Director, Madam Lavina Banduah, said the report brought out issues around the mining sector and that the idea of conducting a research on mining licenses, contracts and permit came after serious deliberations in an international meeting in Brazil, where it was agreed that member countries monitor the mining sector.

She said the mineral sector is significant to sustainable development and that 19 countries across the world are working on similar issues.

“Sierra Leone has 27 out of 52 minerals in the world but when you look at development the country is lagging behind. This report is not to witch-hunt government or individuals but to ensure that those challenges are addressed,” she said.

Giving an overview of the project, Project Officer Edward Koroma said the research was conducted between February and May 2017 and that it was geared towards assessing corruption risk in the mining sector, adding that their findings have informed a national action plan for advocacy and constructive engagement with stakeholders.

He urged that issues around the award of licenses and contracts to mining companies should be transparent and accountable to the people of Sierra Leone.

The Lead Researcher, Dr. Denis  Sandy, explained that there are high risk of corruption in dealing with mining licenses, contracts and permits, adding that there is no strong system to undertake due diligence on applications for mining licenses as there is a possibility of high collusion among officers of the National Mineral Agency (NMA)in the award process.

He claimed that licenses are most times issued by NMA without adequate collaboration with other MDAs.

“There is need for the Mines and Mineral Act of 2009 to be reviewed to address the missing link. Mining companies have been getting their ways in bypassing either by bribing communities or NMA officers to give an oversight on some of the issues,” he concluded.

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