African Minerals Ltd., has completed the payment of Le1, 099,000,000 as 2012 surface rent for mining and rail operations to about ten chiefdoms in the Bombali, Tonkolili and Port Loko districts, north of Sierra Leone.
About this same time last year, the company paid Le1, 087,000,000 for the same purpose making it an important annual event on the calendar of its corporate activities.
Logistics manager of AML, Musa Alie Bangura, who was in the company of corporate affairs and community relations manager, Mustapha Kamara, noted that the process of payment was reached to promote transparency and accountability in the extractive industry in line with best standard practice.
He called for the judicious use of the money and encouraged local authorities to prioritise their development needs in a way that touches the lives of the ordinary people. Bangura also assured of his company's continued commitment to corporate social responsibility apart from such annual payment of surface rents.
Deputy mineral resources minister, Abdul Ignosi Koroma, told beneficiary communities that the revised payment now in cheques, written in the names of chiefdom administrations for onward distributions, was transparent and in adherence to the devolution process under the Local Government Act of 2004.
After receiving the cheques from the AML management, the minister stated: "I am in turn handing them over to the ministry of local government for the attention of the chiefdom authorities," and thanked the company for what he described as an exemplary commitment to its statutory responsibility.
He quoted Section 34/A of the Mines and Minerals Act No. 12 of 2009, which apportions payment to land owners, individuals or families, 50%, the District Council takes 15%, the paramount chiefs get 15%, the chiefdom administration takes 10% and the remaining 10% goes into the constituency development fund.
Deputy Minister of Local Government, Adiru Kalokoh, who was present at the ceremonies in Magburaka, Makeni and Port Loko, also welcomed the efforts by AML to meet its obligations under the law and to improve on the lives of communities in its areas of operations. He presented the cheques to the appropriate beneficiaries but warned against any misuse of the money meant for community development.
Chairman of parliamentary committee on mines, Chernoh 'Chericoco' Bah, was at the Port Loko ceremony where he pointed instances of how paramount chiefs in the affected areas have demonstrated harmony when it came to dealing with the company's largesse. He likened the general success of the activities to the aspirations of his government's mantra of 'Agenda for Change.'
The occasions in all three districts attracted impressive turnout in attendance and served as communal fora for onward planning between community representatives and executives of AML.