Satti Kamara lauding AMR Gold for supporting community development
The National Minerals Agency (NMA) officials from Freetown and the Makeni Regional office held a meeting on Friday 24th September, 2015 in Kamakwie to disclose that the agency has renewed the Exploration licences of AMR Gold.
Addressing the people of Sella Limba and Sanda Loko Chiefdoms at the Kamakwie Court Barry, the Director of Communications and Community Affairs-Ibrahim Satti Kamara said the agency is tasked with the responsibility to monitor the activities of all mining and exploration companies in the country. He added that the agency was established by an Act of Parliament to serve as the technical wing of the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources responsible for the implementation of the Mines and Minerals Act of 2009.
Locals from Sella Limba and Sanda Loko Chiefdoms during the NMA visit
According to Satti Kamara, AMR Gold has demonstrated sincerity and willingness to continue to invest and support the community with development initiatives. He called on the community to work closely with AMR Gold, adding that the company has the potential to provide more jobs and provide livelihood support to the people.
He went on to state that the mineral wealth belongs to all Sierra Leoneans but those minerals are being managed by the Government so that it will benefit the landowners and the community at large.
Disclosing the renewed licenses of AMR Gold, the Inspector of Mines and Compliance-Mohamed Bah said the company is bound by law to provide Progressive and Annual Reports to keep the agency abreast of their activities.
Bah pointed out that AMR Gold is still operating within its nine years exploration period, adding that AMR Gold has moved to the first renewal stage which has been approved by the Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources. According to him, AMR Gold has now identified ‘a resource’ to support a small scale mining operation by its subsidiary company, Wilkinson Hill.
According to Bah, AMR Gold’s exploration licenses have been approved because the company deserves it, revealing further that the company’s application for small scale mining has been granted pending the approval of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report.
He revealed that AMR Gold has the right to explore for all minerals within their exploration licenses in the Sanda Loko and Sella Limba Chiefdoms, noting that AMR Gold has three exploration licenses. He reiterated that the refusal of artisanal miners to seek the expressed consent of AMR Gold before engaging in artisanal mining, has been the source of some of the conflicts within the community. He urged that the company’s investment be protected by all.
Suma said the Government, through the monitoring agency (NMA), should make sure that companies don’t only have the capacity to operate but should be given the freedom to work and explore for whatever mineral they have in their exploration licenses.
Giving a brief background on the acquisition of Artisanal Mining Licences, the Regional Manager of NMA-North, Yusuf Dauda Suma lauded AMR Gold’s initiative in creating Artisanal Mining Cooperatives, which he said would create more employment for the community. He said the scheme will also enhance the social and economic livelihood of the community.
He stressed that, Artisanal miners should not interfere with the operations of AMR Gold without the company’s consent.
He said AMR Gold will continue its exploration programs, adding that the company has spent huge chunk of money without any returns or profit. He therefore appealed to the locals to allow the company to do its work without impediment as according to Suma, artisanal mining will disturb the “resource model” being identified by the company for commercial mining.
Representing the Paramount Chief of Sella Limba Chiefdom, the Section Chief of Kamakwie-Alimamy Soko Turay told the people from the two Chiefdoms that their mandate is to support and promote the policies of the Government. He maintained that the Mines and Minerals Act is complex and therefore appeal to the agency to continue to educate his people so that they would work in accordance with the provisions enshrined in the Act.
Chief Soko Turay used the opportunity to commend AMR Gold management for providing 400 desks and chairs to 8 primary schools in Sella Limba Chiefdom.
“I am honestly impressed with the administration of the current AMR Gold leadership,” he said, adding that in spite of the challenges faced by the company, “it has built schools and bridges; renovated our Court Barry and the police station among others.”
Meanwhile, AMR Gold management believes that improving the efficiency of artisanal mining can be achieved by encouraging the formation of artisanal mining cooperatives.
According to Dr. P.J Ketelaar the company would ensure the supporters of the cooperative comply with measures designed to improve mining efficiency and the rehabilitation of mined-out land.
“Ensuring compliance with the laws and regulations applicable to rehabilitation should be the responsibility of the financier of the Artisanal Mining Cooperative,” said Dr. Ketelaar-AMR Gold Country Manager, adding that it would be prudent to support a larger group organized as an artisanal mining cooperative.
On his part, the Section Chief of Kathantha-Bunduka Conteh said, “the relinquished land by AMR Gold has just demonstrated that the company is transparent and law abiding.”
He called on the community people to utilize the land relinquished by AMR Gold for artisanal mining purpose, but warned that it must be done with the approval of the NMA.
It could be recalled that the AMR Gold, in accordance with the Mines and Minerals Act has relinquished over 300Square Kilometers of its original exploration licenses.
The hall filled with over 500 people, comprising artisanal miners; landowners; youth groups; the police and Chiefdom stakeholders were drawn from different villages in Bombali District. Dancing and singing by youth groups climaxed the ceremony.