African Minerals, a leading investor in Sierra Leone’s high potential minerals exploration sector since 2003, is known for its world-class standards and for its commitment to corporate social responsibility projects.
CEO Alan Watling explains, “African Minerals constantly strives to be a leader in the field of corporate social responsibility and we are committed to supporting local communities in Sierra Leone via innovative projects.” African Minerals received the coveted United Nations International Year of the Planet Award in 2009 for its exceptional social and environmental projects in Sierra Leone.
Flagship Tonkolili iron ore project
African Minerals is looking forward to strong growth in Sierra Leone, where it has obtained extensive minerals rights as well as a lease agreement with the government concerning rail and port infrastructure. Its flagship project is the Tonkolili iron ore initiative, which has the world’s largest JORC compliant magnetite resource (11.6 billion tonnes) as well as over 1 billion tonnes of hematite mineralisation. The initial phase of the project will see AML refurbish and extend the existing rail from Pepel port to the mine site, some 200 kilometres in total.
In its mining activities in Sierra Leone, African Minerals is building on its exceptional expertise. Alan Watling explains, “The iron ore industry is unique and highly specialised, and African Minerals has deep and broad experience in this field. Our company is not built around any one individual, but rather around an enourmously competent group of people.”
Major investments planned in infrastructure and training
African Minerals began operating in Sierra Leone in 2003 after Chairman Frank Timis, recognised the country’s enormous potential. To date, African Minerals has invested around US$210 million (€160 million) in minerals exploration in Sierra Leone, and it plans to invest an additional US$900 million (€686 million) in the Tonkolili project over the next year alone including restructuring, training employees, upgrading infrastructure (a major focus for the company), boosting production and other efforts.
African Minerals is targeting its first production of 2.5 million tonnes by the fourth quarter of 2011, a total which will rise to 10 million tonnes in 2012 and 12 million tonnes in 2013. African Minerals is in advanced discussions with several major investors for potential funding to help it reach 35 million tonnes by the end of 2015.
Long-term commitment to people of Sierra Leone
African Minerals is making a long- term commitment to the people of Sierra Leone. It has already helped build and fund three schools, and is awarding 800 scholarships. In addition, it is creating employment opportunities and is making a significant effort to hire locals; approximately 80% of its 900 current employees are Sierra Leoneans.
Its projects in Sierra Leone to date also include a partnership with ProtoPharma to produce, test and obtain regulatory support for a new age malaria drug; a project to build the infrastructure to provide affordable and clean drinking water everywhere the company operates, particularly in Tonkolili and Pepel; sponsorships of the Freetown Premier League Championship and other sports activities; and business incubators, one of which will introduce more efficient methods to the local farmers so that they can act as food suppliers to African Minerals. This is just the beginning for African Minerals’ corporate social responsibility programme in Sierra Leone.
Demonstrating Sierra Leone’s potential
African Minerals is demonstrating that Sierra Leone has changed: it has a pro business government, a wealth of investment opportunities and friendly people. Once investors come here, they see for themselves the huge potential.
Alan Watling also praises the government’s performance. He says, “Government leaders are doing two things that really stand out to me: they really do try to run this country as a business, which is a huge advantage for the private sector, and they are focusing extremely strongly on controlling corruption which creates a safe haven for capital investment.”
Ambitious growth targets
African Minerals has ambitious growth targets and a clear vision. The vision is in the name African Minerals. AML will be a significant player in the extractive minerals industry in five to seven years, and will want to take a seat at the table with the majors. As an iron ore major AML is also committed to making a positive impact and bringing benefits to Sierra Leone and beyond. African Minerals will be the core, the fundamental engine of the business, and from there will seek to expand into other minerals and further exploration.
African Minerals aims to continue to serve as a benchmark in Sierra Leone. Alan Watling concludes, “Our logo, the elephant, symbolises and identifies us with Africa. We are strong and we are a company that we want people to look up to. We are here in Sierra Leone to stay for generations to come.”