“Transforming the Minerals Sector in Sierra Leone”
Establishment of the National Minerals Agency (NMA)
The creation of the NMA was based on Government approval of a transformation plan to restructure the institutional governance of the mining sector so that the governance role is separated from the operational role. These institutional reforms provide for:
- establishment of a National Minerals Agency (NMA).
- a reformed Ministry of Mineral Resources (MMR).
The Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources is now responsible for legislation and policy formulation (and oversight) for the mining and minerals sector.
The National Minerals Agency was established by an act of parliament in 2012, The National Minerals Agency Act (2012), and on 7th March 2013, His Excellency the President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, formally launched the Agency in Freetown at an impressive ceremony attended by stakeholders in the minerals sector and development partners.
The NMA is responsible for the day-to-day implementation of the Mines and Minerals Act (2009) and other mining acts and related regulations. This includes responsibility for mineral rights management, collecting and disseminating geological information and regulating the trading of precious minerals.
The effective management of the country’s natural resource wealth is critical for achieving high sustainable growth. The NMA will serve as a key ‘enabler’ in achieving Government’s core objective of delivering economic growth and reducing poverty. The institutional changes the NMA will foster in this vital sector will help ensure the country can obtain the full potential from it, in a sustainable way, for the benefit of the economy and the people.
Rationale for the NMA
The principles that underpin the new institutional model for the National Minerals Agency in Sierra Leone are built upon best practice in minerals sector governance and public sector reform from around the world – including a number of African countries.
- Specialisation leading to increased efficiency.
- A well-managed professional agency providing the private sector with confidence to make long term investment decisions.
- A semi-autonomous agency better able to pay and retain more professional and technically qualified people.
The NMA is a technical professional agency ensuring the effective, consistent and transparent management of mineral rights, geological information and regulated precious minerals trading.
What are the NMA’s main tasks?
The key function of the Agency will be to facilitate the development of the minerals sector and to administer and enforce the Mines and Minerals Act 2009, the (pending) Precious Minerals Trading Act and related regulations.
Mineral Rights Management
Manage a fair, predictable, and transparent mineral rights licencing system including monitoring and compliance. Ensure companies issued mineral rights have the necessary technical and financial capabilities and plans. Administer the cadastre system through the Mining Cadastre Office (MCO) which will maintain the register of mineral rights, the register of mineral right applications, the cadastral survey map of mineral rights and mineral rights applications and a record of all minerals sector revenues.
Oversee exploration and mining activities, ensuring they are conducted in a responsible manner and comply with the laws and regulations of the country.
Fair and Competitive Precious Mineral Trading
Implement and oversee a system of diamond trading that is consistent with the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme. Work towards reducing and eliminating illicit mining and trading activities.
Regulate the trading of precious minerals through development and enforcement of the Precious Minerals Trading Act.
Effective Geological Survey
Facilitate exploration investments and activities by overseeing the collection and storage of all geoscience information (including geological mapping) for the nation, and promoting investment through the provision of comprehensive and accurate existing and historical geological information.
Manage an effective revenue system that encourages private sector investment and generates the maximum financial returns for Government.
Operate in a financially responsible manner, ensuring that the agency’s services generate benefits substantially greater than its costs.
Benefits of Creating the NMA
Specialisation will lead to increased efficiency
- The Government can now focus on its core function of economic policy and legislation formulation.
- The professional agency can focus on implementation of policies, law and regulations, reducing potential interference and corruption.
- Separating policy formulation from implementation has ensured that staff members do not operate as both rule maker and enforcer; and different relevant skills sets are brought to each function.
A well-managed professional agency provides the private sector with confidence to make long term investment decisions.
- An agency is less affected by political change than a ministry. If Sierra Leone is to secure large long-term investment it will need predictability and consistency within the mining sector.
- The presentation of medium and long-term agency business plans, combined with clearly articulated rules, improves transparency within the marketplace.
Establishing an agency enhances GOSL’s investment promotion efforts.
- It sends a clear signal to the global mining industry that GOSL is serious about attracting investment.
- Provides a more professional interface between the private sector and Government.