As Former NMA Director General Responds… Mines Ministry Implicated

Mr. Sahr Wonday, former Director of the National Minerals Agency, jetted in town from his base in Maryland in the United States of America to give his response to a number of allegations made by the state with regards the way he had managed the affairs of the Mineral sector, which is the regulator the National Minerals Agency.
Led by his lawyer, Yada Williams, the seasoned mining engineer started by noting that he is a UK mining engineer graduate and has spent a total of 38 years in the country’s mining sector, with 34 years at Sierra Rutile and four years at the former National Mining Diamond Company (NDMC) in Kono spanning back to 1974.
Mr. Wonday continued his testimony by disclosing that he was the first to be recruited by the NMA Board, which is supervised by Adam Smith, as consultant in February, 2013. He added that the background to the establishment of the NMA was informed by a task force set up by Government to look into the management of the country’s mineral sector after it came out clearly that Sierra Leoneans are not getting much from their country’s mineral wealth.
The findings of the task force, according to Mr. Wonday, included, amongst other things, lack of comprehensive geological data on the mineral sector, obsolete legal framework, weak Government policies and poor environmental control.
The task force recommended the setting up of a regulatory agency, and this was how he stated the NMA was established in 2013. The establishment of the NMA had eventually reduced the powers of the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources to that of a policy making body. The Directorate of Mines and Geological Surveys were removed from the Ministry and concentrated at the NMA.
The former NMA DG told the Commission that the NMA had faced transitional challenges since authorities at the Ministry of Mines were finding it difficult to contend with their new role as policy makers. He continued that they were shocked, together with the Board of the NMA, to learn that the Ministry recruited mines engineers and geologists without reference to the NMA even when the NMA Act of 2012 had shifted such a responsibility to the NMA.
The former Director General presented a number of documents, including his handing over notes to the current Director General of the NMA, correspondences between the NMA Board and the Ministry of Mines and Finance. His handing over notes, which had formed part of the Commission’s records, had included a background history to the formation of the NMA, achievements, critical challenges, next steps and priorities for 2019, etc.
He also spoke on the processes and methods used to sell the widely publicized 709 peace diamond discovered at Koardu, Tankoro Chiefdom in Kono District by one Pastor Momoh.
The former DG took the Commission through the sales processes for the diamond, starting with public auction in Sierra Leone and the subsequent sale by Rappaport overseas.
Sahr Wonday served as NMA Director General from 2013 to December 2018 and has prevailed over the issuance of exploration and mining licenses to several mining and oil gas companies that stormed the country in the hey days of the sector, when Sierra Leone was ranked as the fastest growing economy in the world.

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