By Bampia Bundu
On Friday, June 15 and Saturday, June 16, the leading iron ore mining company in Sierra Leone, Africa Minerals Limited, has paid the sum of one billion and ninety nine million (Le 1,099,000,000.00) to land owners and the people of Bombali, Port Loko, Tonkolili and Koinadugu Districts as surface rent.
In his statement at the ceremony the Logistic Manager of Africa Minerals Company, Mr. Musa Ali Bangura, noted that they have been working in the various districts for the past two years and they have been doing their best in ensuring that they meet with their corporate social responsibilities by paying surface rents to deserving land owners across their mining areas and providing them with basic social amenities.
He also stated that they are paying the money in fulfillment of the agreement they signed with the Government of Sierra Leone, pointing out that they would ensure that they adhere to the rules and regulations of the agreement.
He also explained that the money was for the land owners, the District Council, Chiefdom authorities, the Constituency Development Fund and the Paramount Chiefs.
Mr. Bangura appealed to the authorities to share the money evenly so that it would enhance the peace and tranquility of the areas.
In his statement, the Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr. Hadiru Kaloko, appealed to the people to put the money in good use as it would help change their lives for the better, adding that AML was the leading company that was always ready to make life better for the people in the communities they operate.
He commended the management and staff of African Minerals for their continued efforts in changing the lives of the people and encouraged them to continue to do more. He assured the people that his Ministry would be monitoring the monies given to the Local Councils and the District to make sure that they were used in developing the communities.
In his remarks, the Deputy Minister of Mines and Minerals Resources, Mr. Abdul Ignosi Koroma, maintained that such a development was part of the change that President Ernest Bai Koroma is championing.
He explained that the payment was been according to the Mines and Minerals Act of 2011 which provides that mining companies should pay a particular amount to land owners and other stakeholders in their mining areas as compensation for the use of their properties.
He disclosed that the money being paid should be shared as follows: 50% of the total sum was for the land owners, 15% for the District Councils, 15% for Paramount Chiefs, 10% for the Constituency Development Fund and 10% for the Chiefdom administration.
He further disclosed that this law was only applicable to companies that have already started mining and not those that were only doing explorations.