Although gold is not the number one mineral in Sierra Leone, gold mining still plays an important role in the economy of the country. The mining sector contributes about 4.5% of Sierra Leone’s GDP of which gold production makes a big contribution.
Located in the same region as both Mali and Ghana, (two of Africa’s largest gold producing countries) Sierra Leone shares some of the same geology with these Africa’s top gold producers, meaning that there is good potential for future discoveries of major gold rich areas in the future.
Underdeveloped Mining Sector in Sierra Leone
The low gold production in the country is a clear manifestation of the underdevelopment of the mining sector in Sierra Leone. However, it is important to note that following the sweeping political changes in the mid-2000s, the country is rearing to go and has already put in place strategies to attract international funding for gold prospecting and mining.
Gold mining in Sierra Leone just like all the other minerals is under the ministry of minerals and resources and is governed by the Mines and Minerals Acts of 2009. So if you are interested in investing in this sector, you should familiarize yourself with the act and consider consulting the ministry.
Gold mining is one of the oldest activities in Sierra Leone. Just like much of West Africa, gold mining in alluvial deposits dates back to the prehistoric times. Even today, Sierra Leone has the largest deposit of alluvial gold, and mining of this gold has been ongoing throughout human history in the country.
There have been efforts to mechanize the mining, however most of the gold mining activities has remained limited in scale.
In most places within the country, gold is still mined using small-scale artisanal methods. However, the new government initiatives are set to shake things up a little bit with the coming in of new and well-financed companies.
Large Mining Companies in Sierra Leone
Today the majority of the gold mined in Sierra Leone comes from small-scale operations around alluvial gold deposits, although big firms have been making inroads into the sector with the aim of setting up large commercial mining. In fact after the end of the civil war in the mid-2000s, the exploration activities for gold increased tremendously with many international gold mining firms setting base in the country.
This increased exploration activity has recorded more positive results that point to a bright future for the sector.
Also Read: Huge Undiscovered Gold Deposits in Mali
Some of the top players in the gold mining sector include Senehun Minerals which is one of the most successful homegrown gold mining companies in the region. The company stated in 1996 as a small family business, but now controls much of the mining activities in the country. The company has several mines and employs about 600 miners to work on many of its mines. In addition, to mining gold, the company is also interested in other minerals such as diamond, platinum, iron, and bauxite among others.
Another important player in the mining sector is the Cliff Gold, which is a British Company with an interest in gold mining in both Sierra Leone and Guinea. The company has gold exploration permit for several regions in the country. In 2010, it made its first major gold discovery in the South Kangari Hills and it has been working on the development of the mine, which is set to increase the gold production in the country exponentially.
Another important player is the Mano River Resources, which has three gold exploration licenses that covers some of the traditionally gold-rich regions in Sierra Leone. Its key discovery is the Baohamun, which is estimated to containing about 1.1 million ounces of gold. The company is currently working on developing a pit mine that is expected to produce about 200,000 ounces of gold annually.