Concord Times (Freetown)

5 November 2012

Sierra Leone: Cape Lambert Promises More Reforms

Managing Director of Cape Lambert, Philippe "Phil" Francois, has reaffirmed his company's commitment in not only adhering to its corporate social responsibility, but also in endeavouring to respect the concerns of the locals. He welcomed any advice that would foster mutual understanding to enhance the success of the company in the chiefdom.

Francois made the pledge at the public disclosure of the environmental and social impact assessment for the proposed Marampa Iron Ore Project held at the Marampa Chiefdom headquarter town of Lunsar.

Addressing a gathering of land owners, traditional authorities and other categories of stakeholders at the Lunsar town hall, Francois said they were now at the first step of a long process in becoming a mining cooperation. He said the Marampa Iron Ore Limited is a private company owned by Cape Lambert, an Australian-based company which intends to mine 680 million tons of iron ore in Gafai, Rotret, Mafuri and Matukia - all in the Marampa Chiefdom, Port Loko District.

According to the Managing Director, certain villages would have to be relocated to other areas with a resettlement package that would comprise sustainable development initiatives in order to improve the standard of living of both the relocated and host communities. He said services would be monitored and evaluated to confirm the standard of living of both communities.

The Marampa Iron Ore Project will provide about 700 job opportunities of which 60% will be locally sourced, he said.

An overview of the environmental and social impact assessment of the project was jointly done by Steve King and Aminata A. Kamara. Their presentation was focused on the needs of the affected communities, while making special demand on employment.

These communities require the management of Cape Lambert to assist in the education of their children by awarding them scholarship, help in the area of health, and the provision of safe drinking water and good road network in the chiefdom.

Abdul Karim Kamara, one of the land owners at Makaths village, urged the company to employ youths within the chiefdom, adding that plantations along the operational areas needed to be upgraded.

Youth chairman Frank Conteh said they were very much hopeful that Cape Lambert would enhance youth development and activities. He cautioned management not to emulate the patterns of other companies that were fond of employing people from other areas and neglecting the locals who were in dire need of employment

Paramount Chief Bai Koblo Queen II described the day as very important for the development of his chiefdom, noting that there would be lots of benefits for his people. He used the occasion to thank President Ernest Bai Koroma and his government for what he referred to as creating the enabling environment to attract such mining projects.

Meanwhile, former Member of Parliament for Marampa, A.O. Daramy, supported the construction of houses for the affected communities before their relocation.

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