As government is putting together a robust post-Ebola recovery plan, the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources together with Shandong Steel and Mining Company have expressed strong commitment and willingness to recommence mining operations in the country by mid-April, 2015.
This expressed commitment was made during a meeting with Executives of Shandong Steel Company, the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources and representatives of the Tonkolili Iron Ore Mines at State House, Freetown.
President Ernest Bai Koroma expressed delight about the development and stated that it was a timely and welcomed development as the pronouncement was in sync with the country’s recovery programme about to commence after the outbreak. He said government is committed and focused on ensuring the continuity of the mines as such development will give joy and renewed hope to Sierra Leoneans and the continued development of the country.
“We have to continue mining operations, and as a government, we are fully committed to supporting this project,” he said, and expressed encouragement for the participation of Sierra Leoneans to develop the local content of the mines in the country.
The president pointed out that he was encouraged by the process of securing funds for phase two of the operations, which clearly gives the country a “futuristic hope that you are not only here for today but even planning to move on to phase two wherein we can fully realize the potentials of the mining industry.” President Koroma also expressed hope that the partnership with the company would ensure a win-win situation for everybody.
The Chairman of the board and party secretary of Shandong Steel Company Mr Ren Haoregistered his commitment to continue the project, saying that the venture is critical to the development of Sierra Leone. He said Shandong has already purchased the debt and the next step is to have 75% share from African Minerals Limited through auction, adding that they are now focused on resuming full operation and at the same time reducing cost.
Making a statement during the meeting, the Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources Alhaji Minkailu Mansaray said Shandong has bought the debt AML owed on behalf of the project and have secured enough funds to ensure that even phase two will be taken care of. He added that the company had initially set aside Six Hundred Million United States Dollars but noted that the company’s target is One Billion United States Dollars that is reserved to ensure the second phase takes off the ground.
The Acting Chief Executive Officer of Tonkolili Iron Ore Mr Moseray Fadika pointed out his countless engagements to resuscitate mining operations in the country and assured that through his leadership the project will become the best in the world. He also assured that every Sierra Leonean benefits from the project.