By Patricia Koroma
As Sierra Leone continues to suffer from the deadly Ebola plague, the mining industry has recorded enormous negative consequences from the outbreak.
Timis Mining Corporation, being one of the biggest private sector investors in the country, has suffered the greatest hit, as evident in the financial challenge the Marampa Iron Ore project is grappling with.
In the midst of this, news coming from the Marampa Mines in the Port Loko District is just shocking and worrisome.
As the district remains one of the Ebola hotspots in the country, with cumulative confirmed Ebola cases approaching one thousand five hundred, the Marampa Mines, based in Lunsar and owned by the Timis Mining Corporation, is seriously grappling with the untold consequences of the outbreak in the district of Ebola.
While the Timis Mining Corporation and the management of the Marampa Mines remain mute on the devastation faced by the investment, investigations have unearthed that the continuous existence of the investment is at stake as expatriates are demanding and planning to leave the country for fear of their lives because they do not want to die in Sierra Leone.
National workers of the mines and residents of Lunsar have expressed grave concerns over the events unfolding in the mine which is among the largest employers in the country. They are further worried that the disease may spread in the camp.
The fact that the Timis Mining Corporation remains silence on the unfolding catastrophe in the mines is also worrisome, as the citizens are so uncertain about the status of the Marampa mines.
Presently the company’s operations are not at the level they were and losing millions of Dollars in its pursuit to sustain operations but struggling to convince local and expatriates to stay in the country to continue the operation and Ebola virus.
There have been indications that the Government of Sierra Leone might intervene to help address the challenges faced by the management of Timis Mining Corporation but the Government is also almost bankrupt as a result of the Ebola outbreak.
Hundreds of Sierra Leoneans now faced the possibility of losing their jobs and that will only be salvaged when international stakeholders provide financial support for the company which is very difficult to achieve during the Ebola crisis.
The impact of the Ebola crisis has caused international companies and contractors to refuse to come to Sierra Leone to help local Sierra Leoneans and mining company for fear of contracting the deadly disease.
It has been unearthed that the Timis Mining Corporation is fighting to convince international companies that the country is safe as Mr. Timis travels to Sierra Leone every six weeks. However, international companies are refusing to come. Mr. Timis is desperate to convince everybody that the country is safe but international companies claim that they cannot get insurance to come to Sierra Leone because of the Ebola situation, we have learnt.
International Trans shipping companies and mining contractors will not come to Sierra Leone because they cannot get insurance as a direct consequence of the Ebola.
Even though several other mining companies like Octea Mining, Sierra Rutile, AML/Shandong and Cluff Gold have long since succumbed to the massive hit of Ebola, the Timis Mining Corporation’s Marampa Mines have been weathering the storm amid maximum challenges to cope.
It however remains unclear if the Marampa Mines will continue to hold it further especially so when other mining investors have been forced to pull out.