Obtala Resources, a public liability company Saturday sealed a deal with authorities and community people in Kono district, establishing the first such community mining scheme that will jointly operate the diamond mines in three chiefdoms, east of Sierra Leone. Before they signed the agreement, Paramount Chiefs Aiah D. Bona III of Nimikor, Sheku Ahmed Fasuluku III of Sandor and George Bockarie Toto of Nimiyama chiefdoms raised a few concerns which were adequately addressed by the Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources Alhaji Alpha Kanu using the Mines and Minerals Act 2009 for clarification.
Although the mining licences are held by the 100% owned Obtala subsidiary, Sierra Leone Hard Rock Limited, the three-month trial partnership with local artisanal miners, numbering over 300 from Nimikor, Nimiyama and Sandor chiefdoms, guarantees a 30% allocation of the total profit realized to create wealth for host communities.
The mines minister who chaired the occasion observed that the offer was attractive, noting that it far exceeds the statutory obligation binding mining companies to put aside 1% for community development in consonance with the new mines law.
Apart from the 100 % funding of the project, payment of all taxes and surface rents, including the provision of equipment, the mining company is bound by the agreement to pay daily wages by end of every working day to all workers while diamond recovery bonus will be given from proceeds of diamonds.
Saturday’s signing ceremony was a culmination of months long consultations with community people which were witnessed by Vice President Chief Samuel Sam-Sumana, Minister of Mineral Resources, Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security Minkailu Mansaray, Governor of Kono District, Paramount Chiefs and senior district mining engineers.
Responding, Chief Executive Officer of Obtala Resources Paul Jones described the agreement as the first step in a series of further engagements to create better understanding of the operations of the scheme. “Obtala will ensure a policy of socially responsible employment at all times. Upon successful completion of this three month trial period it shall be rolled out for a further 12-month period, employing more people,” he assured.
It could be recalled that Obtala Resources plc in January 2010 announced that it has taken over the total issued share capital of Sierra Leone Hard Rock Limited from African Minerals Limited. A representative of African Minerals said no monetary transaction between its subsidiary Sierra Leone Diamond Company and Obtala ever took place, clarifying misconception that the company may have been bought over by Obtala.
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