From the Editor’s Keyboard

Sierra Leone: Mining Troubles

1 August 2008 at 02:07 | 714 views

By Gibril Koroma

Sierra Leone is facing serious difficulties in the mining industry and the recent disaster at the Sierra Rutile mining site in the south of the country where a dredge collapsed does not help matters.

Back in the east, in Kono, Koidu Holdings, the largest employer in the mining sector has suspended operations. Gold, diamond and iron ore mining in the north do not seem to have taken off significantly (in the case of iron ore, not yet).

I am not a fan of extensive mining operations or logging (I hate logging) but our people urgently need jobs, especially jobs in the mining industry to help keep body and soul together after the ravages of the war.

I would prefer to see a lot more jobs in the agriculture sector but since this is yet minimal (we have to review the land tenure laws first) we have to encourage investors in the mining sector and make sure all mines remain in operation and introduce new ones.

A senior opposition figure once said the old APC was notorious for one thing and that was closing down mines and chasing out foreign companies and investors. I don’t know whether that’s entirely true but a number of companies did leave Sierra Leone in the 70s and 80s as they did in the 90s and very early this century.

Would the new APC, which has a former businessman as leader, close foreign companies and kick out foreign investors at the drop of a hat? That does not seem likely to me because I cannot imagine president Ernest Koroma doing something like that. But you never know what a politician can and cannot do.

Let’s wait and see.