FREETOWN, Mar 12 – President Ernest Koroma has reopened a long-defunct iron-ore mine in northern Sierre Leone that is intended to rake in millions of dollars in coming years for one of the world\’s poorest states.
At a colourful ceremony 77 miles (120 kilometres) from the capital Freetown on Thursday, Koroma described the re-opening of the Marampa mine as "as a great day in the history of Sierra Leone, in its development of the mining industry."
The London Mining Company (LMC) bought the mining rights for 80 million dollars, 35 years after Austrian-based mining Company, Austro-Minerals pulled out, citing declining prices of iron ore in the world market.
"Our first production will be in 12 months time and a shipment of three million tons will be out by the second quarter of next year," said LMC chief executive Graeme Hossie, adding that the mine would be the company\’s flagship project.
"We expect to invest over 300 million US dollars (218 million euros) in our mining operation over the coming four years as the mine has an estimated lifespan of between 30 to even 50 years."
Mines Minister Alpha Kanu described the mine\’s reactivation as "injecting new blood into the life system of the country."
"Total revenue earned from mineral resources in 2008 totalled about five million dollars and by the projection of the company, 4.6 million dollars would be earned by December this year which would mean a total of 80 percent of revenue coming from mining areas in Sierra Leone," Kanu said.
"The projection of 224 million dollars is envisaged by 2019 through direct and indirect taxes from the mineral sector in Sierra Leone."
The west African nation is rich in diamonds, gold, bauxite and platinum and is trying to distance itself from its bloody past during which the sale of "blood diamonds" fuelled a 10-year civil war which ended in 2002.
London Mining is a UK-based company that is developing mines for the steel industry with exploration sites in Colombia, Chile, China, South Africa and Saudi Arabia.