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THE NEED FOR ADDING ECONOMIC VALUES IN TO THE MINING OF NEGLECETDED DEVELOPMENT MINERALS IN SIERRA LEONE AND WEST AFRICA AS A WHOLE

Neglected Development Minerals (NDMs) or Low Value Minerals (LVMs) or Constructions Materials (CMs) which includes Sand, Clay, Semi Precious Minerals, lime stones, Aggregates, Granites mining etc… The mining of neglected development minerals has important implications for sustainable domestic economic development for Sierra Leone as a post-war and post-ebola country in particular and other developing countries in West Africa as a whole.

However, this sector has to date received inadequate attention for their potential to impact livelihoods and few development programmes have provided support for this mining sub-sector which is often referred to as “Low Value Minerals and Materials” due to their low price as a function of their weight, and relatively low value to international community markets. NDMs provide crucial inputs for domestic economic development in terms of infrastructure, manufacturing, construction and agriculture etc… This sector has the potential to be high value in terms of national development.  In comparison to the metals sector, NDMs have closer links with the local economy, and have potential to generate more local and accessible jobs for young people with a greater impact on poverty reduction. This is partly the sector is dominated by small and medium scale domestic businesses.

Sierra Leone, which is the country of the current writer, is very rich in minerals that are called low value or neglected development minerals (Aggregates, Sands, Clay, stones, semi precious minerals etc) , but this sector is completely neglected raging from policy, health and safety, good structure in terms of production, market availability etc. Thus Sierra Leone as post war and post ebola community needs to improve and add importance to the mining of neglected development minerals for it fast domestic economic and infrastructural growths, and having an alternative means to the fall in international market price of metals thereby addressing “minerals’ diseases” With high attention and focus on adding economic values to neglected development minerals by the Government, Privet Sector, Social Groups and International development partners in  SL and West Africa, there will be more affordable and accessible jobs for young people and the non skills local community people in their various communities.

However, there are number of environmental, social, health and safety and economic challenges confronting the sector. As this sector operate in an uncertain legal and regulatory environment, with a lack of publicly available and easily accessible geological data, which exacerbate wasteful exploration and discourages investment in the sector.

I recommend the following for the full implementation of such project in Sierra Leone:  The oversight of the environmental, social, health and safety issues is often inadequate and weak or often non-existent technical extension services such as skills training, capacity building, access to technology, finance appropriate equipment, investment information and markets are seriously needed.  The programme also needs to support rage of stakeholders including, Public Stakeholders such as regulatory agencies and local governments; Private Stakeholders such as small-scale mining enterprises, intermediaries, transportation and logistics service providers, construction companies, Business development Stakeholders such as, Mining and quarrying association, chambers of mines, training centers, Universities, consulting companies, and social stakeholders such as Youths Groups, Civil Society organizations and community base groups. The capacity building is to improved four key areas and they are as follows

-          Increase the sector’s productivity

-          Better manage mining operations

-          Adhere to national and international environmental, health and safety standards

-          Prevent, manage and resolve conflict through effective community relations

In conclusion, On behalf of and as the Funder and Coordinator of the African Youths on Mining and Environment (AYME) let me thank the United National Development Programmes (UNDP) and the European Union for designed project around adding values to neglected development minerals in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) and above all for including youths in this project (By inviting AYME to the first ACP Project’s Regional Training on Neglected Development Minerals held on 15-18 March 2016 Accra, Ghana)  as the highest beneficiaries are young people in these three regions. I also hope that other international development partners will supports this new development initiative as it is in line with Goal 9 of the SDGs. I’m very confident that the German International Corporation Regional Resources Governance Project (ReGo) West Africa can have support this areas of local domestic economic development in Sierra Leone and West Africa as a whole.

Faithful written and composed by:

Joseph Smith

Founder and Coordinator

Africa Youths on Mining and Environment (AYME)

Rotary Peace Fellow 2016-2018 @ International Christian University (ICU) Japan

jsmithcpn@yahoo.co.uk / +23277-495770  

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