State House has, in a news release, announced that the Board Chairman of Shandong Steel Company of China, Mr Ren Hao and the acting Chief Executive Officer of Tonkolili Iron Ore, Sierra Leone born Mr Moseray Fadika have assured President Koroma of “strong commitment and willingness to re-commence mining operations in the country by mid-April, 2015” as debt owed by African Minerals Limited (AML) has been bought by the Chinese group.
The report informs that as government is putting together a robust post-Ebola recovery plan, the Ministry of Mines is determined to play a pivotal role. This saw the Honourable Mines Minister Alhaji Minkailu Mansaray lead executives of Shandong Steel Company and representatives of the Tonkolili Iron Ore to meet President Ernest Koroma at State House yesterday 23rd March 2015.
President Koroma expressed delight about the development and stated that it was a timely and welcomed development as the pronouncement was in sync with Sierra Leone’s recovery programme about to commence after the outbreak. He said government is committed and focused on ensuring the continuity of the mines as such development will give joy and renewed hope to Sierra Leoneans and the continued development of the country.
“We have to continue mining operations, and as a government, we are fully committed to supporting this project,” he said, and expressed encouragement for the participation of Sierra Leoneans to develop the local content of the mines in the country. The president pointed out that he was encouraged by the process of securing funds for Phase 2 of the operations, which clearly gives the country a “futuristic hope that you are not only here for today but even planning to move on to phase two wherein we can fully realize the potentials of the mining industry.”
President Koroma also expressed hope that the partnership with the company would ensure a win-win situation for everybody.
Mr. Ren Hao in his statement, registered his commitment to continue the project, saying that the venture is critical to the development of Sierra Leone. He said they are now focused on resuming full operation and at the same time reducing costs.
Alhaji Minkailu Mansaray said Shandong has bought the debt AML owed on behalf of the project and have secured enough funds to ensure that even phase two will be taken care of. He added that the company had initially set aside Six Hundred Million United States Dollars but noted that the company’s target is now One Billion United States Dollars that is reserved to ensure the second phase takes off the ground.
The Acting Chief Executive Officer of Tonkolili Iron Ore Mr Moseray Fadika pointed out his countless engagements to resuscitate the mining operations in the country and assured that through his leadership the project will become the best in the world.
This news was welcomed by Sierra Leoneans worldwide.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.