EPA Commends Wilkinson Hills
The acting head of Field Operation and Extension at the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), Joseph S. Turay has commended the Wilkinson Hill Mining Company, a subsidiary company of AMR Gold, for their diligent Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report submitted to the agency.
This commendation came amidst the recent public disclosures organized by the Wilkinson Hill Company and the EPA on Sunday 26th in Kathantha village and 27th September 2015 in Kamakwie Town, Sella Limba Chiefdom. According Turay, the essence of the meeting was to verify the validity of the ESIA report submitted by the Geo Mining consulting services on behalf of the Wilkinson Hill Mining Company.
The EPA’s head of Field Operation and Extension said the Environment Protection Agency Sierra Leone (EPA-SL) is the regulatory agency charged with the responsibility to provide for the effective protection of the environment and for other related matters as contained in the EPA Act, 2008. He said the public disclosure is one of the requirements in acquiring the Environment and Impact Assessment (EIA) License, adding that the public presentation by the Geo Mining consulting services was timely in educating the people ahead of the Wilkinson Hill Mining small scale operation.
Geo Mining Consultant explaining the importance of the ESIA report in Kamakwie town
Turay said: “The presence of the chiefdom stakeholders and the indigenes from the different communities have demonstrated to us that the company is transparent and that there was no foul play during their research.”
He proudly told the local journalists that, “the document is a very good one and I therefore appreciated the various contributions from the public.” He said the EPA is very much concerned about the safety and sustainability of the environment, noting that the action plan enshrined in the document should be time bound.
He pointed out that the ESIA report needs an addendum to capture other important sectors that were missing in the document, revealing that the Consultant did not include the number of people that will be employed by the Wilkinson Hill Company. He affirmed that the decision to issue the EIA License to the Wilkinson Hill Mining Company is the sole discretion of the EPA Board of Directors who will critically look at the report submitted by his team and see whether they will approve it or deny it.
Salim Sillah assuring the locals of job opportunities
In his power point presentation, the Environment and Geo Information System (GIS) Consultant of the Geo Mining Consulting Services-Alfred Bockarie said the Wilkinson Hill Mining company has allocated USD 45,000 for its community development action plan. He said the money covers education, health, vocational training, artisanal mining control and capacity building among others.
Bockarie told his audience that the Wilkinson Hill Company anticipated to undertake a small scale alluvial mining operation along the Kamahorohni swamp near the Kathantha village.
“The proposed mining operation will involve extracting coltan, gold and other heavy metals from the Kamahorohni swamp,” said Alfred Bockarie, stressing that the Wilkinson Hill Mining project will be located in Kathantha village in the Loko Hills area, within Sella Limba Chiefdom, Bombali District, Northern Sierra Leone.
Outlining the conceptual mine plan, the Environment and GIS consultant said, “the mining operations proposed by the Wilkinson Hill Mining Company include exploiting surface or near surface deposition (Alluvial and eluvia Deposits) and would have very little waste or overburden, uncomplicated metallurgy and relatively easy access.” He further explained that the first phase of the mining operation will includes, Site clearing, mobilizing of equipment and machinery, construction of access/haulage roads and construction of shelter/office for daily operations.
He concluded that, the mining operation will be guided by the World Bank Guidelines on the Environment and Health and Safety in mines and other relevant legislations in the country.
Representations were made by the Human Rights Commission; the National Minerals Agency; Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources; the Sierra Leone Police, Chiefdom authorities; journalists and Civil Society Organisations.
Salim Sillah-AMR Gold’s Chief Geologist said, “We welcome the contributions made by the public and we would ensure that they are well noted and included in the final report which will be compiled by the consultant.” He said they want to make sure that the company’s operation is within the ambit of the law.
Representatives attentively listening to the power point presentation
According to Salim, many jobs will be provided to Sierra Leoneans and the community stands a better chance to benefit from the company’s development plan