Document Type : Case Study


Department of Forestry, School of Natural Resources Management, Njala University, Njala, Sierra Leone


Sierra Leone is blessed with abundant natural resources but yet prone to environmental degradation due to the mining operations. Most often, the mining communities are faced with social tensions, as a result of the possible trade-off between the expected employment impact and the cost of mining operations to the environment. Over the past decades, the contribution of the mining sector to the development of the country has been overshadowed by the fact that the mining operations have had adverse negative effects, mainly due to the country's weak environmental policies and the failure of the mine monitoring institutions, to supervise the operations of mining company operations. This article seeks to examine both the environmental and the social implication of mining operations on three mining edge communities in Sierra Leone. This paper also utilizes secondary data from the published articles, government’s reports, workshops and conference proceedings, policy documents of non-governmental organizations, newspapers, and the like to generate this writer's view on the topic under review. The thrust of the review will be on the following: Sierra Rutile Limited, Koidu Holdings Limited, and Shandong Iron Ore Mines. The above mining companies have been carefully selected due to the fact that they are located close to dwelling communities, and have been mining in Sierra Leone over a long period of time. The environmental performance index and the mining impact framework are used to clearly show the impact of mining operations on the environment in Sierra Leone. As a result of mining operations, deforestation is skyrocketing, public discomfort and air pollution has worsened, and social unrest has increased as a result of some unacceptable consequences including pollution of water source without recourse to short-term remedy. The literature reviewed by this writer reveals that the mining activities have two faces in Sierra Leone. One is that it serves as a resource curse. An example to this sad reality is the outbreak of civil war, social unrest among others. On the other hand, the mining sector is one of the principal backbones of the economy. It contributes to the livelihood of the country. This paper introduces three-way approaches of mining sector operation remedies that include but not limited to: 1) sound Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) adoption before mining operations starts; 2) carrying out Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA); 3) regular engagement with all stakeholders of mining-affected communities. This article recommends that restoration activities by mining companies go along with extraction and adequate compensation.


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