Thursday, August 03, 2006

Diamond Mining Ignites Conflict in Kono The Campaign for Just Mining (CJM) under the auspices of the Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD) has called the attention of all stakeholders involved in the mining sector of Sierra Leone and the general public to the conflict between the chiefs and the people of Sando chiefdom with regards to the operation of the Sierra Leone Diamond Company (SLDC) and Milestone Mining Company operating in their chiefdoms. According to the Public Relations Officer, Kono District Youth Coalition, the concerns of the people of Sando chiefdom are as follows: 1. Mining companies are not operating in accordance with the national and international standards of mining, 2. The operations of these Mining Companies are shrouded in secrecy since their Mining Lease Agreement and the Environmental Impact Assessment reports are not made available to them. 3. The Paramount Chiefs and local authorities of Sandor Chiefdom have sold their lands to these mining companies without their consent. The people of Sando Chiefdom have written series of letters to all stakeholders concern demanding the Mining Lease Agreement and the Environmental Impact Assessment reports of these companies. The Office of the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone is reported to have asked the Local Unit Commander of the Sierra Leone Police Force Kono district, and all stakeholders concern to look into the matter. On the 23rd of July 2006 a meeting was convened by the above team to resolve this matter, but ended up with chaos between the chiefdom authorities and the people of The campaign is therefore calling on the government of Sierra Leone, Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources, Civil Society Organisations and all stakeholders involved to find a peaceful resolution to this conflict by: 1. Setting up an all inclusive committee to look into this Sando mining issue. 4. Provide the Mining Lease Agreement and the Environmental Impact Assessment reports of these companies to the people of Sando Chiefdom. "It should be noted that Diamond was one of the principal commodity that fuelled Sierra Leone's horrific rebel war, and now that the country is moving towards the national elections in 2007, conflicts in the diamond sector might again lead to insecurity in the country". A resident in Kono opined. The campaign therefore demands all stakeholders involved to quickly address the issue of peace and human security in our beloved nation Sierra Leone. Meanwhile the Campaign activists will continue to monitor events and will inform the public accordingly.