Sierra Leone Plans Beneficiation Legislation

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RAPAPORT… Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma announced plans to introduce legislation that will ensure that most of the country’s diamonds are cut and polished locally before being exported.

According to a report by Reuters, Koroma said the new policy would be tabled in Parliament “as soon as possible.”

“We have not benefited as much as we should have from our mineral resources and that is why we are going to … put in place a mining policy that will ensure that we move away from having low returns,” Reuters cited Koroma as saying.

Koroma added that the new policy would not only add value to Sierra Leone’s diamond exports, but also enhance employment opportunities.

Koroma was elected president in September 2007 on an anti-corruption ticket, pledging to lift poverty levels in the country. The new government is looking to rebuild its image in the mining – and particularly the diamond – sector, given the role “blood diamonds” played in financing the decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone, and given the industry’s potential to boost the country’s economy.

Sierra Leone produced 603,566 carats of diamonds valued at $125.3 million in 2006, of which all was exported, according to Kimberley Process statistics.

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