Scary Developments at Marampa Mines in Lunsar
By Hassan Bruz
Northern Bureau Chief
Even though it is an open secret that the Sierra Leone Peoples Party [SLPP] led Government is at logger heads with the SL Mining Company Limited otherwise known as ‘SL Mining’ that is located at Lunsar in the Northern District of Port Loko, it appears quite a lot of People do not know how deteriorating the situation is. It is equally true that many more People could hardly fathom out the negative implication it has had and would continue to have on the opposing Parties or National Development.
Despite the assurance made by the Local Unit Commander at the Lunsar Police Division that the place is calm and that the threat level is low, it is evident that things will go out of control any time soon, if appropriate measures are not adopted to foster a good working relation. The Local Unit Commander – Chief Superintendent G. M Turay said the place is calm and that the threat level is low. I am sure an insight to some of the most recent events at the Mine Site in Lunsar would help you develop a better picture of how serious the situation has become.
For instance, Chief Superintendent G. M Turay recently led a three –vehicle convoy to the Mine and bulldozed into the Stockpile Area and took away ‘Samples of the Ore’. He is also quoted to have threatened to arrest anyone attempting to obstruct either by recording or taking photographs in his presence. I gathered that he even ordered a drone to be grounded. A Security Officer of the Company was arrested and conveyed to the Lunsar Police Station after his camera was confiscated on accusation that he obstructed Police work.
Chief Superintendent G.M Turay is again said to have later bulldozed his way through the Marampa Mine - Gate with a team of Armed Police Personnel claiming that he was executing orders from his superiors. He ended up deploying a huge number of those Armed Personnel to secure the Assets at the Mine without the consent of the Management of SL Mining.
Although the Management of SL Mining is not inclined to comment on the issue, it is now clear that visits to the Site ought to follow established protocols and that Visitors should communicate their intention and reasons to the Company. Therefore the presence of these Armed Police Personnel is believed to be quite intimidating and is bound to create a lot of anxiety among the Core and Maintenance Staff that is supposed to take care of the Mine.
Unlike the stance of the Management of the Company which refused to make comments, Chief Superintendent G. M Turay was pleased to outline what transpired. He said he was asked by the Director of National Mineral Agency [NMA] – Mr. Peter Bangura to provide security as he was visiting the Site with a team of 10 People. He said the Director and Team did not go with the relevant authority on the first day and had to wait until the following day when it returned with the supporting documents.
The Local Unit Commander said it was Section 6 of the National Mineral Agency Act that empowered them to enter the Mine at all cost, even if forceful means were required. ‘That is why we had to bulldoze our way into the Site when refused entrance by Management. We then went straight to the Plant Area and collected some samples of Ore before we left for the other Locations’.
Chief Superintendent Turay confirmed in an interview with the Sierra Leone News Agency that a staff of SL Mining was arrested for obstructing Police work but was later released. He further made mentioned of the incident in which a Bus - load of angry employees of SL Mining went to prevent the Team of Armed Police Personnel from entering the Site. A direct confrontation was only averted by the Human Resource Officer who prevailed on them to keep their cool and return home.
The Local Unit Commander explained how he received a notice from the Attorney General and Minister of Justice asking all those who own Assets at the Mine Area to have those Assets removed against 28th. February 2020. He said defaulters will have to pay a levy of 50,000 United States Dollars per day after that date shall have expired. Chief Superintendent G.M Turay said if Assets are not removed after 2 months, then the Government will be left with no other option than to confiscate them.
It is therefore clear enough for any proper thinking person to know that SL Mining has been dished out with a notice to quit the Marampa Mine within 2 months or face unpleasant consequences. I cannot tell whether this is contrary to applicable law, Parties’ Contract and International Treaty Obligations or not. But People in Lunsar and Marampa Chiefdom are of the firm belief that SL Mining is a Subsidiary of Gerald International Limited - one of the World’s leading Commodity Groups. It is also the oldest and largest employee – owned commodity merchant in the World. SL Mining restarted production at the Marampa Mine Project after 4 years, following earlier failed attempts by other Companies.
The phase 1 Project of this Company is said to have generated significant employment benefits to surrounding Communities. An elderly man in Lunsar said to me that this Company had plans to build a long – life and resilient project for Marampa and make a sustainable positive impact on Local Stakeholders. He said the Company was in full compliant with its legal and other obligations. He noted that these ugly developments have a multiple negative impacts for the Project. Notwithstanding the huge amount of money the Company has spent to reactivate operations, People are afraid that there is no confidence at the moment for Operations to resume anytime soon.