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Sierra Leone Discloses Mining Revenues for First Time

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Fid Thompson

Two years after Sierra Leone signed up to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the government has submitted their first report on mining revenues.

Sierra Leone is rich in mineral resources and also one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world.

Now the government is trying to address its 'resource curse' by publishing its first ever public report on revenue Sierra Leone receives from mining companies.

The report is part of the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative that requires mining companies to publish what they pay and asks governments to publish what they receive in revenue.  The idea is to foster transparency in a sector that, if managed properly, could contribute significantly to a country's development.

Sierra Leone Ministry of Mines Deputy Secretary Emmanuel Komba says the report is an important step for a country that has gained little from its mineral wealth.

"The rationale behind this is that the world believes the people should benefit from the resources of their country," said Komba.  "And that has not been happening.  So at the end of the day, what has gone wrong?  Who is fooling who?  So at the end of the day in order for everybody to see what is actually happening in industry, that you ask the companies to reveal what they have paid to government, and government to say this is what we have received."

The report covers payments made to the government by six industrial mining companies, two major exporters and other institutions during 2006 and 2007.

Mining companies reportedly paid $10.6 million in 2007 while the government says it received $10.2 million in the same year.  Verdi Consulting, the company reconciling the two sides, says the discrepancy is due to the government failing to report some revenue and to companies unable to prove certain payments.

Sierra Leone's diamond fields fueled a 10-year civil war.  The country is also home to one of the world's largest rutile deposits, and considerable deposits of iron ore, bauxite and gold.

In 2009, Sierra Leone revised its Mines and Minerals Act, requiring greater contributions from mining companies, in the form of license fees, royalties and taxes.

With more money paid to state coffers by mining companies and the recent discovery of oil off Sierra Leone's coast, advocacy groups say transparency and good governance is more important than ever to ensure Sierra Leoneans benefit from their abundant natural resources.

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