The National Advocacy Coalition on Extractives (NACE), has welcomed the enactment of the Mines and Minerals Development Act 2022.

The new law repealed and replaced the Mines and Minerals Act, 2009, and now provides for the introduction of new and improved provisions for exploration, mines and minerals development, sale, and export for the socio-economic benefit of the people of Sierra Leone, to provide for the facilitation of transparent and accountable management of the minerals sector in accordance with international best practice.

While the new law seeks to provide for improved employment and employment practices in the mineral sector, provide for improved welfare of communities affected by exploration, mining, and related activities as well as for more effective measures to reduce the harmful effects of exploration and mining activities on life, property, and the environment, it continues to unfairly distribute land owner’s surface rents.

“For instance, we believe that the 10% from surface rent for MPs and Chiefs is not a positive step or decision because money paid as surface rent is not a development fund. Rather, it is the entitlement of landowners, for the annual use of their property by mining companies, who also wish to see the money improve the lives of their landlords and hosts,” said National Coordinator of NACE, Cecilia Mattia.

The Act makes clear, what surface rent is. According to the Act, “Surface rent”, means “the monetary payment that a holder makes to the owner of the land on which the holder intends to conduct exploration or production activities…” It is therefore unfair for such money to be taxed above the standard property rate of 10%.

It could be recalled that MPs had publicly pronounced the abolition of the Constituency Development Fund because in their wisdom it was creating problems between them and their constituents yet have gone ahead to take 10% from the rent of the same.

NACE is convinced that where the law makes provision for 20% royalties, these monies must be judiciously utilised by Chiefs, MPs, and Councils to undertake their respective local development projects.

“Cecilia maintains that nowhere in the world would you observe either in the laws, regulations, or policies that 10% of surface rent is allocated to Chiefs and MPs. This is, therefore, not progressive, let the surface rent stay with communities,” she emphasised.

NACE is of the view that the new Mines and Minerals Development Act 2022 is a result of widely and rigorously scrutinized processes, involving extensive nationwide consultations with CSOs and other stakeholders. We call on the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Resources (MMMR) and Members of Parliament (MPs) to speedily develop and apply regulations to operationalize the law.