Sierra Rutile Limited (SRL) has paid 2018 surface rent to landowners of the five mining chiefdoms covering its operational areas on 8th and 9th February 2018. The amount of Five Billion, One Hundred And Sixty-Eight Million, Six Hundred and Eighty-Two Thousand Leones (Le5, 168,682,000), a 3% increment on the rent for last year.
The payments were made to landowners of four chiefdoms, namely: Impere, Jong, Lower Banta and Upper Banta on 8 February at the SRL Social Hall-Kpanguma, and on 9 February, payments were made in Sembehun, Bagruwa Chiefdom.
The rent was distributed in accordance with the Sierra Rutile Limited Agreement 2002 and the Mines and Minerals Act 2009 as follows: 50% to landowners; 10% to Chiefdom Administration; 15% to District Councils; 10% to Constituency Development Fund and 15% to Paramount Chiefs.
At the official ceremony on 8 February, the Chief Operating Officer of SRL, Shane Tilka, stated SRL’s commitment that surface rent annual payments were made in meeting the company’s statutory obligations and in fulfillment of the company’s mandate, hence promoting peace and stability within the five mining chiefdoms.
The Chief Operating Officer pointed out that percentage of the rent designated for Constituency Development and District Councils are held until the outcome of March 7th 2018 elections, following the elections, the funds will be presented to the new administrations.
Representing Paramount Chiefs within SRL operational areas, Hon. P.C Alhaji Alie Badara Sheriff III thanked SRL for their timely payments. He said even though he noted the increment of 3%, he appealed to SRL for further increments in subsequent years.
In Sembehun, Paramount Chief Robert C.S. Papapwe also thanked SRL for their timely payments, and appealed to beneficiaries to utilize the resources to educate their children and to promote skills empowerment ahead of commencement of the Sembehun project.
The Head of Public Relations and Community Affairs at National Minerals Agency (NMA), Mr Henry Kamara explained the role of NMA in that since 2013, they have been responsible to regulate the activities of mining companies including compliance and community relations. He explained the transition that mining legal frameworks have gone through since the promulgation of the first act in 1927. He noted that there have been several amendments to the Act though they continue to look for ways to enhance the Act.
Mr Kamara said that he appreciated the fact that this year’s rent is paid earlier and the amount a little higher than previous years. He advised landowners and other recipients of the rent to utilise what is allocated to them judiciously.
The Representative from the Sierra Leone Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (SLEITI), Mohamed Fernando Conteh explained the role of the EITI in the mineral sector. He disclosed that Sierra Leone became a member of the EITI in 2006 and started implementation and compliant procedures in 2013. As an institution, SLEITI’s aim is to promote transparency and accountability in the management of mineral resources. He stated that surface rent is one of the revenue streams for mining communities and inhabitants. Therefore, payment of surface rent is a key component in preparation of the SLEITI’s annual reports.
Making his Keynote Remarks, the Provincial Secretary – South, Thomas B. Lansana lauded the collaborative relationship between landowners, stakeholders and SRL. He emphasized that SRL has been strictly adhering to what is enshrined in laws that guarantee its mining operations.
Mr Lansana urged landowners and members of mining communities to hold their elected officials accountable for funds disbursed to them. He mentioned that funds such as Constituency Development Fund and District Council Fund are meant for the implementation of key development projects within areas affected by mining operations, and in particular the two districts, Bonthe and Moyamba respectively. He appealed to landowners that should they have grievances, the must be channeled through the authorities including at Provincial Secretariat.
By Zainab Iyamide Joaque
Wednesday February 14, 2018.