Salone News

Civil Society Activist Lauds African Minerals

By  | 13 January 2011 at 22:36 | 465 views

The Director of Miners Associate Services, MAS, Foday Bayoh has lauded African Minerals for its efforts to ensure that there is less environmental degradation in its areas of operations.

MAS is a new human rights community–based organization protecting the rights of miners and mining communities.

“Even though others might have their own criticism about them, which might be factual or not, we have found out that environmental degradation in their areas of operations, especially in the Tonkolili district is at a low peak. Our findings have also revealed that there had not been gross abuse of miners’ rights”, Foday (photo) told PV.

He revealed that MAS aims to collaborate with organizations whose objectives are similar to theirs so as to enhance healthy living in mining communities and help miners get humane conditions of service. The organization also campaigns against the use of child miners which has become prevalent in post-war Sierra Leone.

Foday Bayoh added that he plans to engage executives of mining companies on the need for better and safer mining facilities for workers.

“Also, it is not only the workers that are entitled to health facilities but even their families should enjoy such benefits”, he said.

Mining activities in many parts of the country had led to serious environmental degradation, which in some situations led to confrontations between mining companies and the communities. In some instances failure to pay certain financial obligations to the communities had led to chaos which was quelled through the intervention of the police whose neutrality in such cases had however been questioned.

African Minerals on the other hand, has not invited such situations in its areas of operation, which apparently may have moved the executive head of MAS to come to such conclusions.

African Minerals owned by Frank Timis, a Romanian with extensive business engagements around the world, has however been observed to have been involved in serious controversies with rival mining companies, but seems to be taking the lead in mining operations in the country by engaging in extensive operations across the country unlike the others.

Background on AML

African Minerals Limited (“the Company”, “African Minerals”, or “AML”), (is a) mineral exploration and development company with significant iron ore and base metal interests in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

The Company holds an extensive portfolio of mineral rights in Sierra Leone, a country in which it has been actively investing since 2003. Sierra Leone is a mineral rich country which has been largely unexplored and has recovered quickly from a period of instability. Elections held in Sierra Leone during 2007 resulted in a smooth handover of power demonstrating a successful African democracy.

African Minerals completed the country’s first aeromagnetic survey during 2004 and subsequent exploration programmes and multi-element sampling analysis have resulted in the Company assembling a large mineral exploration portfolio in Sierra Leone. The Company is particularly excited by the progress at its flagship project, the Tonkolili iron ore project, where a JORC compliant magnetite resource of 10.5 Billion tonnes has been prepared by SRK Consulting (UK) Limited. This is the world’s largest reported JORC compliant magnetite iron ore mineral resource and African Minerals is in a very strong position to realise the full potential of the Project and compete alongside leading iron ore producers in supplying international steel markets. Additional exploration activities at Tonkolili have also confirmed the potential for 800 Million tonnes of hematite mineralisation.

The Company signed a lease agreement with the Government of Sierra Leone in November 2008 over key rail and port infrastructure. Dependent upon the results of engineering studies, the Company will refurbish and construct rail and port facilities to accommodate its iron ore production and shipping capacity requirements and provide third party access at commercial rates.

The strength of AML’s iron ore assets were clearly endorsed by investors’ response to the equity placings that have taken place over the past 15 months, which took place successfully at a time when very difficult market conditions prevailed. In addition on 6th January 2010 African Minerals entered into a conditional strategic agreement with China Railway Materials Commercial Corporation ("CRM") whereby subject to due diligence and pursuant to the conditional agreement, CRM will take a 12.5% stake in AML for 152.6m. This will be followed by off-take agreements whereby CRM will purchase hematite and magnetite iron ore for a minimum of 20 years. The Company has in place the necessary funding and industry experienced personnel to accelerate the development of its iron ore operations in order to unlock further shareholder value.