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Sierra Leone Government to conduct Nationwide Airborne Geophysical Survey

By Abu BakarrKargb

Companies exploiting the country’s mineral sector under the guise of doing exploration will no longer have a field day as the government is about to undertake a geographic airborne survey across the country to have  comprehensive on the quantum, location and types of minerals that country have.


Three out of five aircrafts at the Lungi Airport ready for action  

President Julius Maada Bio on Monday 28th January 2019 commissioned the nationwide airborne geophysical survey at a ceremony organized by the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources, at Lungi International Airport. The Ministry through the World Bank financed Second phase of Extractive Industry Technical Assistant Project (EITAP), received funding for an airborne geophysical survey which involves the use of specialized aircraft’s equipped with medium resolution magnetic and radiometric technology that will be flying at an altitude as low as 50 meters and in straight lines at a 150 meters line spacing nationwide.

Three of the aircraft will be joined by two more in the coming days to carry out an efficient work across the country.

Mines Ministry Officials say the primary objective of the survey is to acquire adequate geological data that is required for profitable minerals development and the optimization of benefit from mineral deposit in the country.

The World Bank approved a $20 million International Development Association (IDA) Grant for the second phase of the Extractive Industries Technical Assistance Project (EITAP 2) to help strengthen governance, increase geological knowledge, and support the artisanal mining sector in the country.

Under the first phase of the Extractive Industries Technical Assistance Project (EITAP 1 (2009-2016)), Sierra Leone laid the foundation for improved governance in the mining sector.

The objective of this follow-on project is to continue to build on the improvements to mineral sector governance vis-à-vis strengthening the legal and regulatory frameworks and supporting the implementation of the recently updated Minerals Policy and Artisanal Mining Policy, incorporating the principles of the African Mining Vision (AMV) adopted by African Heads of State in 2009. Implementation of both the new Minerals Policy and Artisanal Mining Policy will also address issues of transfer pricing, revenue management, dispute resolution, and harmonization of land policies, skills development and improved environmental management in the sector.

Speaking on behalf of the World Bank, KemohMansaray said the enhancement of geological knowledge and improvement in the country’s geological infrastructure through this Nationwide Airborne Geophysical Survey will not only support the mining sector but also promote land use planning, environment, forestry, agriculture and energy. Mansaray said it will help reduce the asymmetry of Information that often leaves governments at a disadvantage position when negotiating concessions with mining companies. “The more accurate and developed a country’s geodata is, the greater the likelihood for committed investors to readily enter the mining industry,” he remarked.

The Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Dr MorieKombaManyeh revealed that the development of a geodata shows that the mining sector is on the road to recovery, and added that the survey will help the country to have an accurate data. He assured that the history of the mining sector will be completely changed after the airborne geophysical survey and it will enable the country to grow on a faster rate.

Prince Cuffey, Director of Geological Survey at the National Minerals Agency thanked the World Bank for making the project a reality. He said the preparing a geological data in the sector form part of their plan. He described the initiative as and industry, private sector and government friendly. He assured of his Agency’s commitment in ensuring the successful implementation of the geological data survey. 

Andres Blanco, Chairman of Xcalibur Airborne Geophysics told his audience that the survey will be conducted in three stages, namely, acquiring data, processing data and interpretation of the data. He said his company has the capacity to complete the process on time despite the fact that they are starting a bit late. He promised that his team will perform an excellent job so as to enable government speed up its development agenda.

The Project Coordinator, EITAP2 told his audience that the aircrafts are friendly enough in their operations as he admonished the people not to be frightened. Mustapha Gibril said the entire project will further enhance the country’s development. He thanked President Bio for taking a giant step to formulate policies for effective and efficient service delivery in the mines and minerals sector.

President Julius Maada Bio in his keynote address said the lack of geological data has constrained effective policies required to boost the mineral resources sector, and added that a high quality data will reposition the need for natural resources development, hence it will provide jobs, open opportunities to develop smaller businesses and increase revenue. The Geodata process, he said will be managed by the National Minerals Agency (NMA) and Petroleum Directorate. “My government is interested in a win-win investment,” he said and further called on the people not to panic during the operations of the aircrafts. President Bio assured of his government commitment to provide all the required supports that will ensure the success of the project.

A display of the first three aircrafts climaxed the ceremony.

The Paramount Chief of KafuBullom Chiefdom, PC BaiShebora Sheba Gberel III, welcomed the President and other personalities that were present at the colourful ceremony.

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