Sierra Leone News: SL Mining ‘right signal’ for foreign direct investment to Sierra Leone – World Bank Group
For four years the Marampa Iron Ore Mine has been shut down, and during the course of the week, SL Mining, the oldest Iron ore mine is back in operation. A high-level delegation from the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank visited the site at Marampa to see how the once defunct mine has been brought back to life after world market ore prices crashed in 2014. Sierra Leone Country Manager Gayle Martin, World Bank, and Frank Ajilore, IFC Country Representative in Sierra Leone, led the Group’s delegation to SL Mining. According to Ms. Martin the visit to SL Mining was to gain insights on private sector challenges in the mining sector, as mining sector accounts for 77% of exports from Sierra Leone. Since Hot commissioning began at SL Mining, over 650 new jobs have been created of which 90% are indigenes of Port Loko and Lunsar. The workforce is set to increase to over 1800 once mining operations enter into its second phase. According to Paramount Chief Alie Koblo Queen II, that SL Mining had brought much-needed investment into his community. “Beyond the jobs created here, SL Mining paid the debts left behind by their predecessors,” said PC Koblo Queen II. The mine’s previous owners left unresolved over US$1 million of surface rent to landowners; as a result, SL Mining had to clear those debts to reaffirm its commitment to positive community support and engagement. “The opening of SL Mining has and will continue to have a positive transformative impact on this chiefdom, “Just last month 5,000 families received bags of rice from SL Mining. That is the largest ever donation of its kind made to our people.” SL Mining is a subsidiary of the Gerald Group which has significant mine assets in Africa and around the world. The company got involved in the Marampa Mine in 2015 when the global market price for ore hit historic lows going from highs of $200 per ton to below $90 per ton. In 2017 SL Mining took over the mine concession previously managed by London Mining Company (LMC), and later Timis Mining. Neither of these two companies ever focused on the mine, instead working to reprocess old tailings produced by the historic Delco operations from the 1930’s. Once those tailings were exhausted, and the market prices for ore crashed, work stopped and the companies collapsed. However, the Gerald Group’s – SL Mining has focused on long term sustainability since taking over the mine. Today, high-grade premium ore above 65% Fe will be exported from Sierra Leone; a feat never accomplished in the past two decades by any mining company. “Marampa Blue is our high grade 65% Fe concentrate global brand,” said Mr. Craig Dean, Chairperson of SL Mining and the Gerald Group, adding that “Once SL Mining is optimized for Phase 2 our goal is to make Sierra Leone’s Marampa Blue a world recognized premium iron ore brand.” “SL Mining is a good economic development that should receive maximum support,” said Mr. Ajilore, IFC Sierra Leone. “It sends the right signal to foreign direct investors that it is back to business in Sierra Leone.” SL Mining, a limited liability company incorporated in Sierra Leone, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Gerald Group engaged in the exploration, development and production of iron ore concentrate at Marampa in the Port Loko District, the northern province of Sierra Leone. Gerald Group is one of the world’s leading global commodity trading companies offering services as a reliable partner in trade, finance and investment across the global supply chain. Founded in 1962, the Group has helped shape the dynamic of the global non-ferrous and metals trade and has grown to establish trading and representative offices in 18 cities and a presence in forty countries in all regions of the world.
By Mohamed J. Bah
Wednesday February 13, 2019.