Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Kingho Investment Company Limited, Gilbert Zhao has disclosed that the vision of his company is to build an internationally respected iron ore industry in Sierra Leone
Mr Zhao made this disclosure during the official opening ceremony by Kingho Mining Company of the New Tonkolili Iron Ore Mining Project at the mining site in Ferengbeya Village, Tonkolili District, Northern Province of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
Whilst dilating further, the CEO said that through safe and best mining practices, Kingho will continue to do business in Sierra Leone "with a trail of development in all facets of life which the company is hopeful to contribute to."
Furthermore, in elaborating on the relevance of the mines towards the development of Sierra Leone, Mr Gilbert Zhao said that he envisions that the "mine will have profound and transformative impact on the national economy as was in the recent glory past and it will also have transformative effect on our impact communities by offering jobs, economic opportunities, training, and other business opportunities."
In addition, the CEO noted that Kingho has a strategy and business model that will lead to rapid and sustainable economic development of Sierra Leone through the company's Integrated Iron Ore Project Model.
Expanding on the Integrated Iron Ore Project Model, the CEO said that it will involve 3 stages. "Stage 1 which is between year 1 - 3, we projected exporting totally up to 20Mt of 57% Iron Ore by the end of Year 3. In stage 2 between Year 4 - 6 when we will complete our beneficiation plant, we will be producing high value 5.7Mt per year of Iron powder with a grade of 65%. We hope to complete our vertical integration process in stage 3 wherein for the first time Sierra Leone will boast of a steel plant industrial park in the country," Mr Zhao noted, adding that Kingho will expand production capacity up to 30Mt leading to the construction of a steel plant.
"Kingho Company pride ourselves with the way we treat people and our communities with fairness, respect and dignity and respect of the national and local laws" Gilbert Zhao detailed, whilst further elaborating that "even before now, we have embarked on corporate social responsibility projects and we will do more on that front by supporting tangible and sustainable projects that will benefit the wider community."
Meanwhile whilst making his statement on behalf of government, the Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Honourable Musa Timothy Kabba assured the people of Tonkolili that on the start of the operation, his ministry and the National Minerals Agency (NMA) will ensure that Kingho expands on its social corporate responsibility. He urged the people of the mining communities to be very patient with the company as according to him, "the company took over at a very difficult time when many other companies worldwide were shutting down". He called on the people to be very optimistic with regards their mines and assured that government will do everything possible to ensure that the minerals benefit the people.
In a statement read on behalf of the Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to the Republic of Sierra Leone His Excellency Hu Zhangling, the Ambassador commended the resilience of Kingho to invest in Sierra Leone since 2010 during which period the country's economy faced three (3) major shocks- the drop in Iron Ore price, the Ebola Outbreak and the COVID-19 Outbreak. He said the official opening of the New Tonkolili Iron Ore Mining Project "signals a new beginning for a brighter future." He expressed optimism that Kingho's commencement of Iron Ore production at this moment in time "will inject new impetus to Sierra Leone's development, thus worthy commendation."
The Director General of NMA Julius Daniel Mattai said the decision to give Kingho the full-scale mining license which the company deserves is ethically and morally correct. He called on everyone to work in hand to ensure the goodies of the mines are achieved.
Chairman Parliamentary Committee on Mines and Mineral Resources, Honourable Saa Emerson Lamina said it is the desire of the president to ensure the revamping of the Sierra Leone's economy. He called on the people of Tonkolili to maintain peace and tranquility in the mining areas, noting that the proceeds of the mines are used to elevate every sector of the government's socio-development programmes.
Other statements were made by the Resident Minister Northern Province, Abu Abu Koroma who called for unity between the company and the mining communities; the Executive Chairman of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Dr Bondi Gevao who assured the mining communities that his agency will monitor the activities of Kingho to guarantee that its mining is done within the framework of the environmental laws of the country.
The programme was chaired by the Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon Alpha Timbo and was climaxed with a site visit and the official pronouncement of the start of mining by the Honourable Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources.