His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has unveiled a Le 5.3 billion paid into the accounts of the Community Development Agreement, CDA, fund by Kingho Mining Company, a subsidiary of Leone Rock Metals, saying that it is a bold step to support the development of mining communities.
CDAs are required by law and involve the allocation of revenue from extractive activities to local communities. They are negotiated between extractive companies and host communities at the outset to reduce the risk of conflict later.
“I am very pleased to be here this morning to formally launch this Community Development Agreement payment to local community stakeholders. It aligns with my vision of formalising and regularising how mining communities can substantially benefit from mining activities in their areas.
“But we have gone one step further. Governments in the past have not fully considered and planned for the eventual transition of mining communities from being mining-dependent to self-reliant post-mining communities. When mines shut down, jobs disappear, economic activities cease, and communities go into a downward spiral of poverty.
“We have guaranteed not only that mining investments are secure and can be fully supported within a transparent regulatory regime, but that patient investors can also make a profit and repatriate or reinvest their profits. We are, therefore, most pleased to work with Leone Rock Metals, who, in spite of the financial shocks of the global COVID-19 pandemic, have made this major investment.
President Bio also emphasised that he believed stakeholders and decision-makers could do better for mining communities, adding that increasing community development agreement payments from 0.01% of annual revenue in the previous operation year to 1% during mining operations was in the best interests of mining communities.
“Mining communities should not hold begging bowls; they should be paid substantially more to invest in sustainable livelihood and community development projects that would sustain the economic viability and resilience of their communities. My Government has, therefore, proposed, for the first time in the history of this country, passing a law that increases CDA payments from a paltry 0.001% to 1% of revenues,” he said.
In a welcome statement earlier, host Paramount Chief of Dansogoia Chiefdom, PC Alimamy Bockarie Yalan Koroma III, thanked the government and the company for what he described as a big move, adding that such an amount was the highest any company had paid since the discovery of iron ore in Tonkolili in 2010.
The traditional leader further noted that honour and dignity had been restored to his people and promised that they would continue to work and support the government and the Kingho Mining Company.
“Your Excellency, this is the first time such an amount is ever paid to the community. We want to thank you for providing such caring leadership. On behalf of the people of this chiefdom, I want to welcome you and your entourage and thank you very much for everything you continue to do for your people and the country,” he concluded.
Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Timothy Kabba, said the occasion was historic as it would start a new era in the lives of the people of Tonkolili, adding that Kingho was the only company that had started to pay the 1% CDA to communities, as opposed to the 0.015% in the Mines and Minerals Act. He further noted that there had been a lot of reforms in the sector and assured that his ministry would continue to advocate for better conditions for mining communities in ways that even the environment would be protected for the future generation.
“I am happy that the President himself is here today to unveil and hand over the Community Development Agreement Fund. Together, with the mining company, we will continue to support development in the communities. Thank you very much,” he noted.
Chief Executive Officer of the Kingho Mining Company, Gilbert Zhao, said it was a great honour to work with the people of Tonkolili who were now getting what they truly deserved, adding that the company would continue to look into the concerns of the people for a greater working relation.
Mr Zhao further noted that because of the good working relationship between the management and its workers there had never been any disruptions of operations due to industrial actions, adding that even in the midst of the devastating effects of Coronavirus, Kingho was still in operations.
“Kingho is not only here for today or tomorrow. We want to be here to make Sierra Leone better. We can do this together. Thank you very much,” he concluded.
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