Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Paramount Chiefs Connive With SLDC in Illegal Diamond Mining

The Sierra Leone Diamond Company,according to reports is operating illegally.At Sandor Chiefdom Tefeya,the SLDC is presently mining at tailnumber seven which has createda lotof concern for the people.

In a meeting held at parliament between the Minister of Mines and the Mines Committee in parliament, the committee raised concerns over the development in the Kono district.

The committee also lamented the role of Paramount Chiefs in the issuance of mining licenses.

The head of the committee, Hon. Arthur Harvey said the committee has visited various places in Kono like Tankoro, Gbense and Tefeya, and further noted that SLDC was seen doing alluvial mining, which they should not.

According to Hon. Alpha Kanu, the license given to SLDC was primarily for kimberlite mining and not artisannal mining.

The committee also put it to the minister that SLDC has already occupied areas formerly reserved to preserve the environment without prior knowledge of the ministry of the environment.

The transfer of tailings to SLDC according to the committee was not properly done or through with regards to the legal procedures involved.

It was also noted by the committee that reports have reached them that the mines engineer is refusing to sign licenses already approved by the chiefs.

Responding, the Minister of Mines, Alhaji Swaray Deen told the committee that the involvement of SLDC in alluvial mining was approved by the paramount chiefs, and that the chiefs have been to Freetown to discuss these issues.

“Most of these licenses, moreover licenses that deal with artisannal mining are approved by paramount chiefs before mines engineers endorse it,” the minister said, adding that the ministry has documents showing people who have already given their lands to SLDC for mining purposes.

He said most people do not understand mineral rights and as such most of these issues would have to be discussed with the people as they are planning.

The committee called on the ministry to see the need to employ environmental engineers, stressing that environmental impact assessment also needs to be looked into.

Transferring mining lease from one company to another has to be done through the ministry, which was never the case and as such, such issue needs to be seriously dealt with.

The issue of the refusal by the mines engineer to sign licenses was also another case in point whereby the ministry was mandated to investigate.

The ministry was also asked about the money for the rehabilitation and that the ministry should now be thinking of kick starting that process.

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