Leone Rock Metal Group has paid a total amount of over Le 1,300,000,000 (one billion three hundred million Leones) as surface rent to landowners within its Iron Ore licenses in Tonkolili District, Northern Province of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
The payment of the surface rents by the company is pursuant to 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 re-echoed the voices of the landowners and Paramount Chiefs of all the concessions by saying that the payment of the surface rent shows that Leone Rock is sensitive to its obligations. He thanked the company and prayed that the relationship between the company and the people continue to bolster.
Responding to the payment, Honourable Rose Marie Bangura of Constituency 055 covering Simiria, Kafe and Dansogoia chiefdoms thanked the company for honouring its obligation. She called on the landowners to utilize the money properly and to use the money for developmental projects that will further empower their communities. She said aside from the payment of the surface rent, the company has also undertaken CDAP projects in their respective communities intending to ameliorate the sufferings of the people.
Landowners as well as community stakeholders present praised Leone Rock Metal Group for being a compliant company. They thanked the company 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 pushing for further development in their localities.
Meanwhile, the Director in the Office of the CEO of Leone Rock Metal Group, Salim Sillah during an earlier interview said the Integrated Iron Ore Project the 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 the production of steel.
Salim Sillah added that currently, the company is in 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 was 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. The period also coincided with the Ebola outbreak coupled with the decline in global Iron Ore price during which the majority of Iron Ore companies including London Mining, and African Minerals either transferred their assets to other companies or shut down because they were struggling to keep up with operation cost vs the poor revenue from sales.
However, with the company now with the right to the railway and port facilities, Salim Sillah said that plans are on to revamp the various mining concession areas.