In an exciting development for Sierra Leone, Leone Rock Metal Group (LRMG), a prominent mining company, has commenced a groundbreaking project to upgrade and reconstruct the railway and port facilities in the country. This development comes just 10 days after the company signed a new lease agreement with the Sierra Leonean government to manage the Rail and Port, showcasing their commitment to the development of the nation.
The Resident Minister of the North announced the government’s support for LRMG, praising their dedication to advancing infrastructure in the region. Julius Mattai, the Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, hailed the project as a significant milestone for Sierra Leone, highlighting that the new lease agreement between LRMG and the government is superior to any previous agreements. Furthermore, Mattai emphasized that LRMG’s involvement does not result in a monopoly over the Rail and Port, as the company is currently exporting for CTC and as discussions are underway with Marampa mines to use the rail and port facilities.
The Speaker of Parliament, Hon Abass Bundu, applauded LRMG for their investment in the expansion project, which seeks to reconstruct damaged infrastructure and ensure safe operations for all users. This development is particularly significant as LRMG aims to export steel, not just ore, from Sierra Leone in the future. Hon Bundu pledged the Parliament’s support for the project, underscoring its potential to benefit the people of Sierra Leone.
CEO of LRMG, Gilbert Zhao, outlined the company’s ambitious plans, which include the construction of a 49 MW Power Plant in Tonkolili and a 9 MW Power Plant in Pepel Port, with investments of over $32 million USD and $7 million USD respectively. Additionally, to meet the anticipated high traffic demands, LRMG will restore and upgrade the jetty with a $5 million USD investment. In total, the company is committed to investing over $50 million USD in these projects, which are set to be completed within six months after its launch on 5th November 2023.
“LRMG’s expansion in the mining sector, railway, and port is expected to generate nearly 20,000 direct jobs in the next three years, building on the 5,200 jobs already created, which are benefiting over 25,000 people. In line with the government’s youth development programs, LRMG is also considering establishing a vocational training center to empower Sierra Leonean youth and enhance their self-sufficiency” Salim Sillah, Chief Technical Officer stated in his presentation on the rail and port expansion project.
The Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone commended the new lease agreement as a testament to the successful cooperation between China and Sierra Leone under the Belt and Road Initiative. He expressed confidence in LRMG’s commitment to expanding investments in Sierra Leone and establishing a lasting presence in the country. Notably, LRMG has formulated a five-year plan aimed at increasing output to 20 million metric tons, upgrading the railway and port, and constructing a steel plant within Sierra Leone.
The Deputy Minister of Transport and Aviation celebrated this project as a significant milestone for rail transport and the Sierra Leonean economy. Furthermore, call on LRMG’s management to expand the rail network to agricultural sites in the country which aligns with the government’s manifesto promises.
Deputy Minister of Finance, Jeneba Bangura, emphasized the multitude of benefits Sierra Leone stands to gain from this agreement, including job creation, increased tax revenue, royalties, corporate taxes, and foreign direct investment, all of which will contribute to the country’s development.
With LRMG’s ambitious rail and port upgrade project, Sierra Leone is poised to experience transformative growth, generating employment opportunities, stimulating economic activity, and positioning the country as a key player in the mining and infrastructure sectors. The government and LRMG’s collaboration exemplifies the shared commitment to harnessing the nation’s resources for the benefit of all Sierra Leoneans.