Thursday, July 12, 2007

World Bank - Mining Sector is Vital for Development

The World Bank Country Representative in Sierra Leone, Mr. Engilbert Gudmundsson has said in Freetown that the mining sector is very important for Sierra Leone’s socio-economic development. Mr. Gudmundsson was speaking at a tripatrite national workshop held recently at the Bishop Broshnan Memorial Hall at the Santano House, Howe Street.
The World Bank Representative said he believes the objective of the strategic environmental and social assessment (SESA) process, which is the preparatory stage of the mining policy and the restructuring of the mining sector, is a key environmental and social issue that must be achieved.  Mr. Gudmunsson called on stakeholders in the mining sector to play a leading role in the implementation and monitoring the recommendations drawn from the various workshops.
Presenting the recommendations, one of the leading engineering and project management consultancy firms in Sierra Leone, CEMMAT Group Limited Executive Director, Mr. Andrew Keili said the recommendation was categorized in three parts which include strengthening environmental governance, enhancing benefits to communities and effectively incorporating the artisanal mining sector in the reforms. He recalled that four workshops were held in Freetown and the provinces to map out these recommendations.
The CEMMAT Group was charged with the responsibility by government to undertake a strategic environmental and social assessment of the mineral sector in order to put mechanism for social and environmental sustainability.
The Director of Mineral Resources, Mr. Alimamy Wurie observed the significance the mining industry has made to the country’s economy over the years. He however admitted the negative impact of mining on the environment. Mr. Wurie said that the Mines Ministry has developed a strategy whereby an applicant for antisanal mining licence is required to pay a prescribed fee for reclamation of the worked out area before the licence is issued or renewed.  The amount collected, he went on, is kept in a special rehabilitation fund which is used to service the reclamation work under taken on behalf of government. The Mines Director assured that the Mines Ministry will continue to improve its investment climate to attract more investors, contractors and financiers for a very competitive mining policy.

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