Some of the companies visited were Sierra Rutile limited/ILUKA Resources; Sierra Mineral Holding Limited (Vimetco) in Moyamba; SOCFIN Agricultural Company (SAC) in Pujehun; Goldtree Ltd Daru; Allotropes Diamond Values in Bo, while others were summoned to Parliament for further vetting.
In her remarks, the Committee Chairperson, Hon. Jariatu Rosaline Smith aka ‘JK’ encapsulated the purpose and importance of the visit, stressing the need for mining companies to avert climate change and especially now that the weather pattern was changing.
Hon. Smith called on them to preserve the environment, EIA and other Environment Protection Agency (EPA) regulations.
She reechoed that Sierra Leone was among the three disaster prone nations and that as representatives of the people and chairman of the Committee that had to do with lands and environment; she would not sit by without moving swiftly to put mining companies on the defence.
According to her, Parliament was very serious in the fight against climate change and other disasters in order to preserve both lives and the environment nationwide. Hon Smith said that was why she went along with other relevance Committees which included Mines and Mineral Resources, Agriculture, Food and Security Committees respectively.
The MP schooled various managements that the visit was not a witch hunt neither one attempting to expose them to the public, but one that was geared towards encouraging them to tighten their seat belts properly to save lives, preserve the environment and also comply to the government mining regulations.
She not that their constituents were expecting so much from them and so they could not sit by without visiting these areas to know the companies’ activities, and what they had also set aside for the community people who used to work on those farms.
The APC Parliamentarian revealed that though Parliament wanted more investors, but those needed most were those that would comply with the country’s policies including the Local Content Policy in order to reduce the unemployment rate.
According to the Chairman on Agriculture, Hon. Alimamy Gibril Kargbo, his Committee was very keen on the activities of the farmers and always wanted to ensure that the companies live in peace with the people.
The Agriculture Chairman continued that although there were mining agreements with the companies in the various concessions, yet, the issues of compensations to the landowners and corporate social responsibilities must be respected.
Hon. A.G. Kargbo stated that it would be unfortunate if companies failed to cooperate with the farmers who had been cultivating the lands before being given to them by the government. He said as a Committee they would not allow such to happen.
He concluded that he wanted the companies to live up to expectations in their various areas of operations and that that would never be possible if a common ground was not established, noting that there was no way they could deny the fact that the mining companies were not destroying the environment which the people largely used to depend on.
Members of the Committees were also curious about the issues of the environment and among many other things. They therefore asked various relevant questions on the main activities of the companies.