NMA Director General Excels

 

In the New Direction Government’s determination to source mainly internally generated revenues to finance the free quality education programme, as well as the other socioeconomic development needs of the people, the Managing Director of the National Minerals Agency, Sahr Wonday, who says we must reverse the mineral curse and ensure that Sierra Leoneans derive maximum benefit from our mineral wealth, occupies a very strategic position.

“We must learn from recent experience in our mining sector and plan for a time when revenue streams from the mining sector decline,” he says.

Knowledgeable about the sector, competent and very forward looking, in terms of what NMA can do to maximize revenue from the sector for the economic transformation of the country and its people, Sahr Wonday stated that Sierra Leone’s mineral deposits represent major opportunities for both potential investors and the country to derive significant benefits.

Put in figures, in 2017, the NMA DG said four large scale mining companies paid USD52 million to the National Revenue Authority, employed 6, 000 people and contributed 20% of GDP.

As controller of the country’s mining sector, Sahr Wonday who sees Sierra Leone benefitting immensely from its God given wealth such as Botswana, Australia and Canada do believes that Good governance of the mining sector is critical for Sierra Leone to attract the right kind of investment and fully maximize the potential benefits of its mineral endowments.

NMA’s approach towards this goal he said is to enhance knowledge of the full range of minerals in Sierra Leone.

In this regard, Sahr Wonday said that NMA is “providing support for the Extractive Industry Technical Assistance project, the main component of which is the airborne geophysical survey to enhance general knowledge of Sierra Leone’s mineral potential.’

The World Bank funded project which costs $5 million, he furthered, will accelerate development of the minerals sector.

Currently, Sahr Wonday said that it is known that Sierra Leone is richly endowed with minerals such as chromite, iron ore, platinum, gold, diamond, bauxite, rutile, ilmenite, zircon, base metals and rare earth elements such as columbite – tantalite (coltan) which is very vital in the mobile phone manufacturing industry.

Notwithstanding this significant contribution to the economy, our New Direction Government recognizes the fact that Sierra Leone needs to show more for our mineral wealth.

In playing a critical role in supporting the country’s development agenda, the NMA DG said that a key priority is to ensure that our license management process is very transparent with allocation of mineral rights based on strict eligibility criteria designed towards attracting only credible investors with proven track records.

A mining company should not be an enclave operation with minimal backward or forward economic linkages required to stimulate economic activities in other sectors of the economy. Thus, NMA he said will give high priority to strict enforcement of the local content policy and ensure that mining companies train local staff and increase use of local contractors.

Sahr Wonday believes that establishment of mineral processing industries, coupled with clear legislation, good policies, stringent legal and institutional framework, good governance, Sierra Leone like Botswana, Australia and Canada can benefit immensely from its minerals.

Actions Sahr Wonday wants taken include revision of the mines and minerals act 2009; transparency; taxation and corporate social responsibilities to mining communities and above all compliance with the EITI rule and regulations.

In line with the country’s Community Development Agreement model, going forward, NMA wants mining companies to contribute at least 1% of their gross revenue to a community development fund which will support education, health and general development of mining communities.

NMA’s aim he said is to implement an internationally competitive tax regime that is mutually advantageous for investors and the government, thus creating a win-win situation whereby mining contributes to sustainable development in the country and its people and good returns for investors.

“We will therefore pay close attention to compliance with the Public Financial Management Act and application of the fiscal rule to manage the use of mineral resource revenues,” NMA’s DG assures the nation.