Research visit to Sierra Leone delivers immediate benefits

Inspecting rehabilitation of large scale iron ore mining in Sierra Leone.

An IM4DC-sponsored visit to Sierra Leone by two researchers from the Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation of the Sustainable Minerals Institute at The University of Queensland has delivered immediate payoff for environmental management of mines in that country. IM4DC received very positive feedback from both the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Environment Protection Agency, Sierra Leone (EPA-SL).

Dr Daniel Franks and Dr Peter Erskine went to the West African nation to examine mine closure plans and mined land rehabilitation to prepare a paper on practices and needs.

During the week-long visit they conducted mine closure and land rehabilitation ‘audits’ of five of the largest mine sites in Sierra Leone, as well as three artisanal areas. On their return to the capital, Freetown, they gave briefings to the EPA-SL as well as the Ministries of Mines and Land, the leading environmental consultancies and civil society groups. They also briefed the Mine Working Group – a donor government coordination mechanism on mining issues, were interviewed on national TV and radio, and took part in the Sierra Leone launch of UNEP’s Post Conflict Natural Resource Management book series. Finally they gave a direct report back to the mining companies.

UNEP’s Program Coordinator – Sierra Leone, Oli Brown said in a thank you email: “The combination of SMI’s expertise and UNEP’s connections, convening power and track record in Sierra Leone made for an excellent collaboration and one which was very much appreciated by the Government and civil society representatives.”

Haddijatou Jallow, Executive Chairperson of the EPA said: “I wish to convey my sincere appreciation to you and your colleagues for your invaluable contribution in building the capacity of the Environment Protection Agency in the area of mine rehabilitation.”