A sum of over Le 1,300,000,000 (One Billion Three Hundred Million Leones) was paid as surface rent by Leone Rock Metal Group to landowners within its operational areas in Tonkolili District, Northern Sierra Leone.
Payment of the surface rents by the company was in line with the requirement for the granting of a Large-Scale Mining License and in relation to Leone Rock Metal Group’s obligation prescribed in Section 34(a) of the Mines and Minerals Act 2009 for surface rent.
During the payment, Paramount Chief Alimamy Bockarie Yallan Koroma of Dansogoia Chiefdom reiterated the views of the landowners and Paramount Chiefs of all the concessions who collectively stated that the payment of the surface rent reveals that Leone Rock is adhering to its obligations. He commended the company and expressed optimism that the relationship between the company and the people will continue to be healthy.
In her statement, Honourable Rose Marie Bangura of Constituency 055 covering Simiria, Kafe and Dansogoia chiefdoms thanked the company for honouring its obligation. She admonished the landowners to utilize the money properly and to also use the money for developmental projects that will further empower their communities.
She furthered that besides the payment of the surface rent the company has also undertaken CDAP projects in their respective communities with the aim of ameliorating the sufferings of the people.
Landowners as well as community stakeholders present lauded Leone Rock Metal Group for being a compliant company as well as for its massive investment in their communities particularly in the areas of health, agriculture, education, recreation etc. They assured that the money paid will be used judiciously in enhancing development in their localities.
Meanwhile, Director in the Office of the CEO of Leone Rock Metal Group, Salim Sillah during an earlier interview stated that the Integrated Iron Ore Project of the company has several stages which are keen on getting a smelting plant that will transform Sierra Leone iron ore industry from mining to production of steel.
Salim Sillah added that currently the company is on the process of designing and building an optimization plant that will be the first time in the history of the Tonkolili Mine and that the Iron Ore concentrate will leave the mine with a globally competitive grade of +62%.
Asked why the company did not start active mining despite acquiring the three licenses in 2013, Salim Sillah said that the prevailing circumstance at the time was not favourable to start active mining. He said the company spent over USD 60 Million on exploration alone but could not start mining because the infrastructure to transport iron ore from Tonkolili were not in place and that the owners of the then existing railway could not allow the company to use rail and port infrastructure for transport of its ore.
He continued how the period also coincided with the Ebola outbreak coupled with the decline in global Iron Ore price during which majority of Iron Ore companies including London Mining, African Minerals either transferred their assets to other companies or shut down because they were struggling to keep up with operation cost against the poor revenue from sales.
However, with the company now with right of the railway and port facilities, Salim Sillah said that plans are on to revamp the various mining concession areas as the company now is in control of the railway and port facilities,.