The Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Foday Rado Yokie, has officially handed over the World Bank funded geological survey data to the Director General of the National Minerals Agency (NMA), Julius Mattai, at Youyi Building on Thursday 25th June.
The still encrypted data will be interpreted by another contracting firm to enable the country determine the actual picture of its mineral deposits. The World Bank funded project costs US$20 million, of which US$6.2 million was the contract cost of the Extractive Industries Technology Assistance Project Two (EITAP2). The project covered three components, including improving mineral sector governance, enhancing geological knowledge and support to the artisanal mining sector.
The Minister of Mines and Minerals Resources, Foday Rado Yokie, said in January 2019 President Julius Maada Bio launched the geo survey project aimed at comparing old data on the country’s minerals deposits to what is presently available. He said in the past, investors decided on the country’s behalf in terms of type and quantity of mineral deposits, which was a disadvantage to the nation.
The Minster said with the raw data on mineral deposits in the country now available, they are going to ensure laws are in place to reflect international best practices, including beneficial ownerships, proper calculation of royalties, and all environmental laws will be looked into with considerable interest. He described the data as partial fulfilment of the President’s agenda on rebranding the extractive sector to benefit every Sierra Leonean.
The Director General of National Minerals Agency (NMA), Julius Mattai, said the IDA grant to the project was aimed at conducting a geological survey that will present a picture of the country’s mineral wealth, adding that the data report in government’s possession is not the finished product of the survey. He said the data that were captured needed to be interpreted taking quality control into consideration. The Director General stated that the contracting firm had sub-contracted another group in Canada to interpret the data.
“By August this year, that process would have been completed with results on the actual situation of minerals in the country hence bring out detailed interpretation of an idea of where the minerals are.” He assured that the data will be managed by an in-house Sierra Leonean to reduce cost and risk to investors.
Two types of surveys were carried out, including Magnetic and Geophysical. There are discussions with World Bank on the need for more surveys. “By the end of July, the country is expected to put out maps indicating what we have as a nation in terms of mineral deposits.” The nationwide geological survey was carried out by a South African company called Xcalibur Airborne Geophysic.
(C) The Calabash Newspaper