Minister of Mines updates the media on the completed Geophysical Survey

By Mohamed Konneh

Minister of Mines – Hon. Foday Rado Yokie

The Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources on Thursday updated the local media on the Geophysical Survey that was launched in 2019 on the Country’s natural resources. The survey was done with funds provided by the World Bank with survey planes flying across the country to collect data on the Sierra Leone mineral wealth.  The first phase has been done and data collected and handed over to the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources. The data collected will be in the custody of the National Mineral Agency, something that was witnessed during the updates.

Briefing the media, the Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Hon. Foday Rado Yokie, expressed happiness for the work done so far but noted that there is still work to be done. He said the data that has been collected is encrypted and is not available to be disseminated, noting that the data need to be interpreted first before it will be put in the public domain for use.

Hon. Yokie said that the last geophysical survey that was done was way back in the 1930s and that a number of issues have emerged.

“The last survey is old and outdated and we don’t even know most of data that was collected. As a responsible government we thought it fit to do a new geophysical survey so that we have fair knowledge about our mineral wealth but also lots of other things about our environment. The survey has been done and we now have the data,” he said.

This data, according to the Minister, will be in the custody of the National Minerals Agency while we continue to have it interpreted. The data is not yet ready for use but by August of this year we are hoping to have the finished product.

The Minister said the government is happy with the progress made so far but this means more work to follow as time progresses.

The Director General of the National Mineral Agency, Julius Mattia, in his statement said this project was a twenty million World Bank project and that part of the funds was used for the survey.

He recalled that the geophysical survey was launched in 2019 that witnessed low flying planes flying over the country.

“The data has been collected but the real challenge starts now. The data we have now cannot just be used because there is a lot of work that still needs to be done on it,” he said.

He said this survey is good for the country, noting that there is a lot of misinformation about the country’s mineral wealth. But with this data, after it would be have been interpreted we will now have a fair knowledge about our mineral wealth and will put the country in a position of strength to negotiate with investors coming into the country.

“There is lot of talk that we have not benefited from our mineral wealth all of what we doing is to change this narrative,” he observed, adding that the Mines and Mineral Act of 2009 is being reviewed and that very soon it will be taken to Parliament. “We are doing all of these for the benefit of the country and the survey that has been done with data collected is just part of ongoing efforts that will benefit the country,” he said.

Mr. Mattia noted that the NMA is currently working in building the capacity of young Sierra Leoneans in the sector but also taking into cognizance integrity. He said people after the interpretation and all other aspects of the project would have completed people who may want to use the data would have to pay for it.

The South African company that was hired to do the survey was able fly a total of 411,548.5-line km, with an outstanding 135,994.5-line km. 

Project Coordinator Mustapha Sheku Gibril during his statement said the airborne survey was a success and that the data has now been collected.  He noted that they encounter series of challenges but that they were able to complete the first phase of the project capturing data that has now been handed over the Ministry of Mines.  He said the Government, with support from the World Bank, undertook the countrywide airborne geophysical survey to collect reliable geophysical data that will help to determine the mineral potential of the country.

The Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources and the NMA take this opportunity to assure the general public of their commitment to transparency and accountability in the mineral sector, and will provide further update in due course.

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