’Port Loko endorses SLEMCO: ESHIA report
The Sierra Leone Exploration and Mining Company, SLEMCO is bracing up to kick-start the mining of about three hundred and twenty one million ton Bauxite in Port Loko District for a period of thirty-five years. The increase from about one hundred and fifty million tons to over three hundred million tons in a one hundred kilometer area was discovered after a successful satellite technology survey that was carried out in Maforki, Marampa, Koya, Buya and Yoni Chiefdoms in the Port Loko District, and Magbema Chiefdom in the Kambia District. (Chairman of SLEMCO, Alieu Mohame Sesay addressing the meeting)
The first in series of public consultation and disclosure meetings was held at the Lunsar Town Hall on Wednesday 2nd February 2011, with the aim to sensitize the affected property owners, key stakeholders and the general public on the Environmental Social and Health Impact Assessment (ESHIA) that was conducted for the Port Loko Bauxite project.
Addressing the meeting, the Chairman of SLEMCO, Alieu Mohamed Sesay said the company was established under the laws of Sierra Leone cap 249 to mine Bauxite and at the same time join President Ernerst Bai Koroma’s priority of linking mining with infrastructural development. He reiterated the fact that the company is in Sierra Leone to support the development process, and added that as and when license are issued to them they are ready to give the country a face lift in its development agenda. “SLEMCO is for every Sierra Leonean and we will not relent in ensuring environmental safety. You should embrace this project as your baby so that we transform the entire district,” Mr. Sesay assured.
He informed his audience that the company will be holding series of meetings with the affected communities to map out development strategies and that all royalties will be paid transparently. “We are determining to meet our mining obligations and ensure that we improve on the health, welfare and economic situation of Sierra Leone,” he promised. He concluded by urging the people to secure the company’s properties and in return the company will provide the expected goods such as employment facilities in the communities they are operating.
A Board Member in the Sierra Leone Environmental Protection Agency, SLEPA, Mr. Kamorba K. Dabo described the meeting as first of it kind, owing to the fact that the people were able to gain much knowledge on environmental safety standards. He commended SLEMCO for a job well done, and encouraged the people to work with SLEMCO so that President Koroma’s Agenda for Change becomes a success. “Health is very paramount in development. We will ensure that SLEMCO adhere to the environmental rules and regulations,” Mr. Dabo said.
Paramount Chief Koblo Queen II of Lunsar described the event as the re-birth of the bauxite mine in the Port Loko District, and assured that they will give their maximum support to SLEMCO because, as he put it ‘the mining sector is the engine for economic growth in the country’. “I am happy to see Port Loko becoming the apex of national development”, says the Paramount Chief.
Speaking on behalf of the Land Owners, Pa Sorie Mbalu Kamara stated they have seen companies coming and going but they have shown less concern to the affected land owners. He appealed to SLEMCO to make the difference, and admonish his colleagues to embrace the project. Similar sentiment were expressed by Honourable Hassan Sheriff and Honourable A.O. Daramy of Port Loko District. The meeting was chaired by Councillor Ahmid Fofanah, Chairman of Port Loko District Council. The meeting was climaxed by an interactive session that includes questions from the audience, comments and clarifications from the audience that followed a comprehensive presentation on the ESHIA. A similar meeting will be held in Port Loko Town on Friday.
By Fadda Bakish
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