FREETOWN (Reuters) - Sierra Leone will soon launch a public web site to detail mining revenues, in an effort that will help ensure that an expected resource bonanza is handled transparently, officials said.
The West African state is poised to grow at a staggering 51.4 percent in 2012, according to an IMF projection, as two large-scale iron ore mines come into production.
“By the end of 2012 you are going to find every cent that is paid to the government on this web site,” Jonathan Sharkah, director of mines at Sierra Leone’s ministry of mineral resources, told reporters in Freetown last week.
African Minerals announced earlier this month that they had begun loading the first trial shipment from their mine at Tonkolili, while fellow British firm London Mining plans to export from their smaller facility at Marampa by the end of the year.
The online repository will initially contain details of all active industrial mining and exploration licenses, active mining and exploration applications, and payment information from 2010 onward. Next year artisanal licenses, exporter and dealer licenses and taxation information will be added.
Government officials are yet to confirm a launch date for the system, but it is ready to go live and is expected to do so by the end of the year.
Sierra Leone has lavish mineral deposits, including bauxite, the titanium ore rutile and diamonds alongside iron ore. However, it has long struggled to convert its natural resource wealth into tangible benefits for its people.
Some 50,000 died during the country’s 1991-2002 civil war, a conflict, partially fueled by Sierra Leone’s diamond deposits.