By Mohamed Sheriff
The Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources and his team have concluded two-day familiarisation tour to three mining companies in Southern and Eastern part of the country. Sierra Diamonds Limited in Tongo, Kenema District, Sierra Rutile Limited and Sierra Mining Holdings Limited ( Vimetco) in Moyamba District.
The purpose of the visits was to know, discuss, and find ways on how the Government can help the mining companies in this difficult time when the Corona virus has put every sector backward.
The said mining companies warmly welcomed the Minister and his entourage in their mines. The three companies expressed similar sentiments on how hard they have been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic .
They expressed their gratitude to the Minister and his Government for taking special time to visit them and to know how they are faring on during this challenging period.
They highlighted some of their plans in the next coming years and social responsibilities they’ve fulfilled in their different mining locations before and during the pandemic in order to help curb the Coronavirus out of their operating areas and the country at large.
Karl Smithson, Executive Director Sierra Diamonds Limited said that the company is pleased with the way the Government is allowing them to operate in the country.
“Tongo Kimberlite diamonds are hybrid in nature, they are among the best diamonds in the world. The Tongo Diamond Project is one of the highest diamond project in West Africa. The company has planned to provide over 700 jobs for the locals. The landscape of Sierra Leone and Liberia are unique in terms of Mineral in Africa”, he ended.
Theuns De-Bruyne is the Acting Chief Operations, Sierra Rutile Limited said over the past two years the company have contributed immensely towards human capital development via training of the locals and as well as giving them scholarships to further their education in various tertiary institutions in the country.
BasudebDatta is the General Manager, Vimetco maintained that they will continue to pay taxes and requested for the Minister to consult with the appropriate bodies to see how best the taxes can be reduced for them during this Corona period.
The Minister of Mines and Minerals Resources, Mr. Timothy Kabba expressed his thanks and appreciation to the companies for adhering to his call in a short time.
He commended the companies for their activities both in the mining sector and to the community people as well.
He added that the companies should up their game so as to be able to kick off mining in full scale for the benefit of their companies and the people, since the virus has started subsiding in the country and the world.
The Minister noted that the ministry will ensure to provide the required help/aid so that the companies will be able to stand the test of time.
” I want to see the companies succeed so that the lives of the people will be better because they own the land and the minerals”, he said.
He commended the companies for the scholarships and training they’re giving to the locals and other citizens; he pleaded with the companies to continue the kind gesture to the community people.
” I want to encourage the companies to ensure that the communities and the country at large benefit from the ongoing mining process so that the country will not be a total loser amidst the plenty of resources it has”, he noted.
While addressing the workforce of Sierra Diamonds Limited (SDL) Sierra Rutile Limited (SRL), and Vimetco, the Mines Minister thanked them for accepting to work for the companies.
“I want to encourage you to work hard, be patient, law abiding, loyal to your country and be supportive to your family for a better life and a better economy of Sierra Leone”, he said.
He commended the companies for creating job opportunities for the locals and the country at large. He promised that the Government of President Bio will stop at nothing to making sure that their rights are protected from abuse.
He asked them to always feel free to use the right approach in case they have any issues with their employers. He promised to always be an intermediary between the workers and the companies so that the two will be winners since all of them are working for the country and for-profit purposes.
Some of the workers at SDL, SRL, and Vimetco assured the Minister and in extension the Government of their continued support and be law-abiding for the good of the country.