SL Mining, a subsidiary of US
commodity trader Gerald Group, is allegedly planning to halt operations as
early as next week to help it offset the impact of a Sierra Leone’s ban on
export from the company’s Marampa mine, imposed in July.
Despite an international court recently ordered the West African nation to lift such prohibition, authorities remain firm, claiming that SL Mining has failed to maintain the mine’s agreed work schedule or make royalty payments.
The company, which rejects the
government’s claims, told employers that without being able to export, it was
not possible for them to remain in operations.
“The [Sierra Leone’s government] continues to ignore the terms of the London’s court final order, failing to engage in a meaningful discussion with SL Mining,” it said in a letter published by The Sierra Leone Telegraph.
“SL Mining’s sole shareholder, the
Gerald Group, has invested a great deal of money and efforts in Sierra Leone
over many years and yet, was only allowed to make three successful shipments in
a highly favorable market before being struck [by the ban],” it said.
The move would leave more than
1,000 locals on forced leave.
SL Mining’s first iron ore
concentrate from Marampa, branded “Marampa Blue’, set sail from Freetown Port on
Located in the Port Loko District,
in the country’s north, SL Mining is engaged in the exploration, development
and production of a high-grade iron ore concentrate with >65 percent Fe
The company estimates that Marampa,
permitted since 2017, holds about 1 billion tonnes of iron ore with a potential
lifespan of 30 years.
Following a steady growth until 2012, foreign direct investment in Sierra Leone was severely impacted by an Ebola outbreak.
The country’s economy currently faces serious challenges, the latest World Bank’s report shows. Those issues include falling government revenue as a result of low export and lack of investments in key sectors of the economy, including mining.