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African Minerals receives nine-man Liberian delegation

African Minerals receives nine-man Liberian delegation

A nine-man delegation from neighbouring Liberia is currently in Sierra Leone to learn from the good example of African Minerals in Sierra Leone. Led by the former Minister of Finance and Bank Governor, John Bestman, the delegation arrived in the country on Wednesday 22nd September 2010.  They comprise of Senior Government officials as well as other personalities that are manning the Liberian Mines sector. They include: Peter Norman, Sam T. Jackson, A Kpandel Fayiah, Dr. Fodee Kromah, Albert T. Chie, Gesler E. Murray, Emmanuel O. Sherman and Rexford C. Sartuh.

The delegation was airlifted to the African Minerals Pepel site on Thursday 23rd September 2010, where Chief Executive Officer, Alan Watling who joined the Board on 1 February 2009 gave an up date on the project.

He revealed that the company has made significant progress on exploration in Sierra Leone, and added that to date and based on the success of the major iron ore discovery at Tonkolili of 10.5 billion tons, AML is now undertaking significant expenditure to develop a full engineering design for the construction of mine, rail, port and power.

“The company will further fund in excess of about US$4 billion to bring the project into production. We received a mining license from the government in 2010, and we hope to have quality produce that meets the competitive market requirement,” he said, and added that there is a significant benefit for the government and people of Sierra Leone as the company is presently training Sierra Leoneans to become skilled workers. “We are planning to establish a Mines College in Sierra Leone in the next five to seven years,” Mr. Watling said.

AML has successfully conducted a comprehensive countrywide exploration program including airborne geophysics and multi-element stream sediment survey, and has already presented a comprehensive map to government. The Iron Ore project has identified numerous high priority exploration targets including two significant Iron Ore targets, Tonkolili and Marampa extension, Multi-rig intensive core drilling program at Flagship Tonkolili iron ore project targeting 100,000m drilling.

AML has intensified the construction of in excess of 186km of state of the art heavy haul railroad, specialized rail workshops to service and maintain a large rolling stock fleet and track maintenance fleet, and creation of third party access opportunities. This will be followed by the construction of new capsized vessel deep water port, re-commissioning of the existing Pepel Port, 200Mt multiple product stockpiling, processing and ship loading facility, multiple berthing facilities, national and regional marine and infrastructure growth opportunity.

AML will construct a new dam with existing 50 MW capacities and an additional latent capacity to 160 MW and a Hydro-power cost 3-5c /kW.

The company recently received a locomotive engine that will be instrument towards the construction of a standard rail. Two more locomotive engines are expected by January 2011. AML hopes to operate with a total of seventeen locomotive engines during mining.

There is an ongoing significant training opportunities empowering Sierra Leoneans who will be well prepared to take up duties from foreign experts. The two years training will give national staff the opportunity to learn and compete in the market with other professionals. Mining will commence by December after the company would have prepared two stockyards and refurbish a loader.

The construction of the World’s third largest port in Sierra Leone by African Minerals will serve as a significant infrastructure development underpinning additional broad spectrum business opportunities. This will be a catalyst project for the country and West Africa as export opportunities will be of a major boost. The current transition into the construction phase will create further substantial training and employment opportunities.

The production phase will create long term professional and skilled training opportunities empowering the Sierra Leone people, developing the skills of Sierra Leoneans, preferential selection of Sierra Leoneans for integration into the company’s workforce, and acknowledging high achievers with Fast Track promotional opportunities. AML has a demonstrated track record of conducting ongoing “on the job” training for employees in many professional and trade disciplines.

To date, AML has delivered training to many Sierra Leoneans creating employment opportunities in the following disciplines: AML is already one of the largest employers in Sierra Leone and has demonstrated it is committed to its policy of employing Sierra Leoneans wherever possible. AML values its employees and recognizes that the training and retention of skilled staff is imperative for the growth of the company. The company will continue to provide Sierra Leone employees with ongoing technical skills training and personal development

AML hopes to provide direct revenue from royalties to Government, direct revenue from company tax payments, direct revenue from employee income tax, direct employment for about ten thousand Sierra Leoneans. There will also be indirect revenue via the stimulation of local businesses by sourcing goods and services located in-country, royalties’ payments amounting to $100 million per annum from the sale of iron concentrate product to international steel markets and company tax payments amounting to about $600 million per annum payable from profits generated at the project.

African Minerals will continue to implement social development programs with specific focus on: clean drinking water, new roads and bridges, new schools, education support – as over eight hundred scholarships have been provided in eleven chiefdoms, pro-active medical programs. There will be more substantial community development projects in health, education and infrastructure.

The company’s policy is to conform to internationally recognize environmental laws and regulations and to promote the respect of the environment in all of its business activities in compliance to the Equator Principles. Consultants and contractors are being employed to support the company’s efforts to protect and preserve the environment.

The desire of President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma is to always create a guaranteed business industry that benefits the people of Sierra Leone. In this regard AML has continued to demonstrate its willingness to transform Sierra Leone to a higher developmental level. It was on 6th November 2008 the government signed an agreement with AML for the construction of an African Port and Rail and construct a 200km railway that connects Tonkolili Iron Ore project, Marampa, Pepel unto the standard port at Tagrin, Lungi. This has a potential to provide investment opportunity through export for Sierra Leone and West Africa in trans-shipment services.

These successes were commended by the Head of Delegation, John Bestman. He told this press that they are very impressed to see lots of work being done by AML for a very short time. He noted that they are hoping to see such a project being replicated in Liberia. “We have an oil exploration company in Liberia called African Petroleum. We hope they will follow the good step of African Minerals,” the former Bank Governor of Liberia said. The delegation visited the Tonkolili Iron Ore Project site on Saturday and left the shores of Sierra Leone on Sunday.

By Fadda Bakish, Freetown

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