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Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio Presides Over Payment of SLE 20 Billion in CDF, Cornerstone Laying for $230M Iron Ore Processing Plant by Leone Rock Metal Group

Ferengbeia Town, Tonkolili District, Northern Region, Thursday 30 March 2023 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has presided over the cornerstone laying ceremony to start the construction of a 12 million metric tonne iron ore processing plant, worth $230 million by Leone Rock Metal Group.

The President also received a cheque for SLE 20.3 billion (old leones) on behalf of the community, one percent of the annual gross revenue of the company, formerly China Kingho Mining Company, to be deposited into the funds account as prescribed under the laws of Sierra Leone and in fulfillment of its community development agreement obligations.

“It is a real pleasure to be here today to jointly celebrate the clear outcomes of the many policy and governance reforms we clearly laid out in our 2018 manifesto for transforming the mining sector.

“I want to thank Leone Rock-Kingho for maintaining its commitment to pay 1% of revenue as an investment in local sustainable livelihood and community development projects. As I have indicated, the CDA will not only support the economic viability and resilience of this community, but mining will also leave a positive footprint in these communities.

President Julius Maada Bio insisted they believed that mining communities should benefit significantly from mining activities in their areas, noting that before now there was very little evidence that the paltry 0.001% paid by mining companies was even received by the communities.

“For ten years of mining in the Tonkolili District, there is no direct community development footprint from community development agreements negotiated before 2018.

“My Government believes that communities can achieve better development outcomes when more resources are directly provided to take care of their stated development needs. There is a saying in popular lore that ‘diamonds are not forever.’ Mining is not forever but mining communities deserve to be better off even when mining operations close down or are scaled down.

 

He emphasised that his government was grateful that investors from the People’s Republic of China could keep faith in the country’s economy, adding that at a broader level, that was a deep manifestation of the close solidarity between the two countries based on mutual trust and respect, a shared vision, and a shared interest in their common prosperity.

“The last time we were here, the Honourable Member of Parliament pointed out the impact of these reforms in supporting education in Mabonthor, the rehabilitation of health centres in Dankawalie and Kamedugu, and the support for agriculture in other areas. She also acknowledged that I was the first head of state to facilitate a CDA payment from a mining company in Tonkolili District without headache or strike action.

“The community must, therefore, do everything to support the peaceful operations of Leone Rock Metals-Kingho and to protect the company’s assets. If we do, my Government can do even more. Last year, my Government worked with Leone Rock-Kingho to put Le5 Billion into the community’s account. This year, I am proud that the amount has quadrupled to Le20 Billion,” he said.

The President disclosed that his government would not want to see the mines close anymore, adding that Leone Rock-Kingho had assured him that the ore optimisation plants to be constructed would add value to the iron ore before export.

“I am, therefore, most pleased to be laying the cornerstone for the company’s phase II Stage II processing plant. I thank you for your kind attention,” he concluded.

Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Wang Qing, said the mega iron ore processing plant in Sierra Leone, when completed, would be the biggest in West Africa, adding that the success of Leone Rock Metal Group was a demonstration of fruitful, practical, win-win relations.

“Since 2010 Leone Rock Metal Group has stood firmly with the Government of Sierra Leone in a bid to transform the mining sector. Irrespective of the many difficulties they had experienced, along with the huge global risks and challenges, the company was resilient enough to invest in the country.

“Our presence here today is a result of that trust and political will. Now, here we are, and they are trying to transform their losses into gains by expanding their investment through the construction of a 12 million metric tonne iron ore processing plant that will add value to the iron ore to meet global standards.

President of Leone Rock Metal Group, Colin Ding, said, “Our 12 million metric tonnes per annum saprolite processing and beneficiation plant is a demonstration of our aspiration and efforts to support the continuous development of the mining industry in Sierra Leone and the creation of a stronger financial contribution to the economy, thereby providing more jobs.

“Our current employment is over 3,600 vibrant and passionate employees, of whom 96 percent are Sierra Leoneans engaged in different roles in the company. His Excellency, when we completed the phase two stage one concentration plant last year with an investment of 8 million dollars, I saw hope for a sustainable Tonkolili iron ore mine. Now, I envisage that with further expansion, through the construction of our Phase II saprolite processing plant, the company will completely transform Tonkolili Iron Ore Mine into the largest sustainable iron ore-producing company in West Africa”.

For more information: State House Media and Communications Unit

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