Sierra Mineral Holdings commonly known as Vimetco, yesterday 27th February, 2020 paidthe sum of One Billion, Seven Hundred Million Leones as Surface Rent to land owners of 4 chiefdoms at the CDC Complex, Mosenesie Junction Lower Banta chiefdom in the Moyamba district.
The payment is compensation to land owners for the lands utilized by Vimetco to do its mining activities in the chiefdom. Land owners, whose lands have been utilized by the company, received the monies.
Abdul Bangura is the Company’s Chief Finance Officer (CFO). He said in 2019, the Company paid One Billion, Three Hundred Million Leones as Surface Rent to the Land Owners. This year he revealed, the Company paid One Billion, Seven Hundred Million Leones for the same purpose.
Bangura said in line with the Mines and Minerals Act, the company is required to discuss and negotiate with Land Owners on Surface Rent and that by the close of last year, the two parties reached an acceptable amount reflecting this year’s significant increase in the amount paid.
Speaking on challenges faced by the Company in relation to the global drop in Bauxite price, Kamara said the start of 2019, between January and October, the Company was doing pretty well, recording huge profit and was able to accomplish its production indicators in terms of mining and exportation volumes.
But during the last quarters Kamara went on, the Company started having request from buyers that the global price for Bauxite is dropping and that the Company need to reduce its selling price.
He said because operational cost cannot be reduced overnight as it involves lots of cross-cutting and measures, the Company reverted to its buyers that the price of Bauxite cannot be reduced during the cause of the year.
In this case, Kamara furthered, the buyers reduced the up-lift of the shipment that they have been taking per year and that records significant drop in sales. He said if the Company cannot sell it cannot also just keep on producing, especially when it has to meet other running costs. He said in line with this, the Company decided to take proactive measures to make sure that the Company aligned it sales and production together so it curtails its production during the last quarter of the year. This he said means that this year, the Company will get less revenue and that more of its capital projects have already been reduced to the barest minimum.
However, the CFO assured that this challenge will not let the Company evade any of its obligations at both government and local levels.
Closing, he assured that the Company has no plans to shut down operations neither go into ant redundancy but will be going out in search of more new buyers.
Representing government at the event, Martin Jimmy, Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources said the Mines and Minerals Act of 2019 states how monies should be distributed, received and the amount to be given to each community. He encouraged the people to set up projects as a team which will in turn benefit their children in the community.
Speaking on behalf of the community, Paramount Chief (PC)Tommy Mualala Jombla of Upper Banta chiefdom, Bonthe district thanked Vimetco for the payment of the surface rent at an early date that in 2019. He said the company has made the process more transparent, whilst also joining other speakers encourage the beneficiaries to utilize the monies cautiously.
He highlighted the numerous developments Vimetco has and continues to undertake in communities. He listed the construction of multipurpose center, schools, teachers’ quarters and water wells among other facilities.
Sierra Minerals has been part of the international industrial and investment group, Vimetco N.V., since July 2008. Sierra Minerals is the only bauxite mine in Sierra Leone and is the second largest mining employer in the country. The mine has a resource base of approximately 31 million tonnes of bauxite and currently produces around 1.2 million tonnes per annum for export.