Residents on Gorama Mende in Kenema District have endorsed the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report for Seawright Mining Company to go ahead with their proposed Diamond and Gold exploration project.
The report which was prepared by one of a renowned environmental consulting firm ECOSYS Sierra Leone Limited is in line with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Act of 2008 and amended in 2010.
The events took place at Pondoru School –Gorama Mende Chiefdoms, Kenema Districts, on 7th April, 2017.
Gorama Mende Chiefdom Speaker, Jeseph S. Koroma said they have agreed for Seawright to operate in their chiefdom.
“I am very much happy about this gathering. We have given you the green light to operate as a mining company in our chiefdom.”
Representing the Environmental Protections Agency (EPA) Sierra Leone Aiah Wurie Kembay said EPA is not against mining but the agency is here to protect the environment for the next generation through that the environmental impact assessment came in to play; the disclosure is one of the laws.
He urged his audience to be more attentive as they saw the disclosure as one that is very important and for them not to cast blame on the elders and EPA. He added that no mining will take place if a company fails to do an assessment on the environment.
“If public disclosure does not take place we will not know what the people want and expect as our responsibility is to take care of the land and the people. Public disclosure is plain talk and face-to-face discussion. It is unfortunate for me not to see enough women.”
He appealed to all to work in the interest of the community and hope that after the disclosure they will not regret.
Paramount Chief of Gorama Mende Chiefdoms, Kenema Districts Madam Mariama Kamanda welcomed the initiative by Seawright. She said she was very optimistic about the operation of Seawright in her Chiefdom. PC Madam Mariama Kamanda reflected on the days when mining companies went to their chiefdom, mined and left without doing anything for them but Seawright Mining Company she said had gone to them with a difference.
“Seawright mining is undertaking a lot of developmental projects in our community such as road, school construction and water, among others”
She urged her people to make use of the opportunity given to them by the company and that if they lose such opportunity they will never get it again.
Chief Operation Officer (COO) of Seawright Mining Company, William Brown Kamanda used the opportunity to re-introduce the company to the people.
He disclosed that Seawright is an American company that is managed bya Sierra Leonean that started operation in 2013. He explained some of the odd times they have gone through when they started their operation.
Kamanda spoke about the cordial relation they want with the community they are operating and the job they will be creating for the locals when they come into full scale mining.
The Chief Operation Officer stressed that they will make sure that they backfill any area they mine which is not the case for other mining companies.
He added that they were operating under the name Sewa Mining but in 2016 they changed the name to Seawright Mining Company.
“Our exploration is diamond and gold and that is our primary focus. In 2013 we came as a company.” He added that
“We are strengthening the relationship with the communities; our doors are always opened to the community people. There are lots of development that has occurred in this community, road rehabilitation, fixing of imported bridges, and education. We have more things to do; plans are on the pipe line.”
He said they are just exploring not mining at the moment. He also spoke about the ongoing projects for the community such as the construction of six class room’s block, toilets and staff room and office at Foyama, yearly Le 50 Million for the chiefdom and each of the 14 land owner will receive Le 5 Million yearly.
“It is only with your compliance and supports you will make things happen. We have lot in mind, with your support it will not just be words but action.”
Team Leader for the Public Disclosure Report for Seawright Mining Company Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Anthony Davies of ECOSYS(SL) Ltd, said Seawright mining area and license was previously acquired by the Sewa Mining Company which mainly used artisanal/local methods for mining the minerals.
Seawright Mining presently has bought the entire share from Sewa Mining Company and its 100% owned by Seawright Mining Company Limited.
He disclosed that the company intends to embark on exploration of the mining concession of the Exploration license EL 45/11 for the next three years.
The exploration activities, he added are targeted to capture Diamonds, Gold and any other chance finding. The roposed exploration activities is to commence in the South-Eastern part of Sierra Leone along the Sewa River, Between Kenema and Kono Districts in brief, prospecting for Diamonds, Gold and any chance finding are core activities.
“The Seawright Mining Company is committed to design and operate the proposed development to the same standard as obliged by the GoSL and the regulatory Agency, such as EPA and NMA. SWM is also committed to comply with all applicable legal and regulatory requirements that is obtain in Sierra Leone.
This commitment also applies to the Expatriate Contractor. The design and operational criteria for the exploration
processes and facility have been based upon guidance provided by various GoSL authorities, legislative and regulatory considerations identified below, and the World Bank and International Finance Corporation performance standards.”
He went on to say Seawright Mining Company acknowledges their responsibility to the environment and also to the EPA Act, 2008 and 2010.
The developers have therefore identified and examined all thepotential environmental impacts associated with the proposed exploration project and the operation of various exploration equipment and facilities, and have addressed these concerns in this assessment report.
The EIA discussed various environmental and social issues likely to arise from the proposed Projects. Major activities to be carried out include; the major facilities to be built/installed or upgraded at the two camp sites will be the senior staff quarters, first aid medical post, and respective workshops. Communication sets, landscaping.
Within the exploration zone, will be opening of pits, excavation and hauling of gravels and decommission of pits. A total of 1.2 Million United States Dollars has been earmarked for these projects. Appropriate arrangement will be made to ensure as little inconvenience to all members of the community as possible.
ECOSYS suggestions to Seawrights were for them to support the community with energy, education, water and sanitation.
“We gave them the advice on what they should do to avoid pollution in the water; they should allow women and physically challenge to work for them.”
Statements were also made by Socio-Economic Impact Assessment Team Leader Alex Roger who also served as Chairman, National Minerals Agency, Office of National Security, Ministry of Agriculture, Civil Society and Councilor of Ward 44.