Mining is one of the leading export sectors in the country. In recent years, the economy received a further boost when two substantial iron ore mines started production and export which caused real GDP growth to jump from an annual average of 5.7 percent during 2010-2011 to 15.2 percent and 20.1 percent in 2012 and 2013 respectively. During these periods, the sector created significant number of jobs. However, the Ebola epidemic, along with rapidly falling iron ore prices, stunted the country’s economic progress. There are known commercial quantities of iron ore and diamonds, also substantial deposits of gold, titanium and bauxite, as well as indications of manganese, uranium, and lead.
To ensure optimal contribution to national development, the Government is committed to promoting transparency and accountability in the mineral sector. In 2014, Sierra Leone became a country compliant with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) process.
The mineral sector consists of three categories of mine operations: (a) large-scale; (b) mechanized small-scale mines, mostly diamonds and gold; and (c) artisanal, with large numbers of individual miners. Large-scale mining operations in Sierra Leone are all foreign-owned.
The National Minerals Agency Act was enacted in 2012 creating the institutional framework through which the mineral sector will be effectively managed. The National Minerals Agency provides effective and efficient licencing, geological services and regulatory agency services in a consistent, accountable and transparent manner.
There are proven mineral deposits to allow increased investment and production for the foreseeable future. The Government has also put in place a transparent and modern regulatory regime for the sector.