Sierra Leone – AIM-listed diamond development company Stellar Diamonds has made good progress towards the approval of the mining licence application for its 100% owned 1.45 million carat Tongo Dyke-1 project in Sierra Leone.

Stellar Diamonds' Tongon process plant
Stellar Diamonds’ Tongon process plant

Stellar Diamonds has also submitted its final environmental, social and health impact assessment (ESHIA) to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for consideration.

The submission of the Tongo mining licence application and ESHIA marks a key milestone in the development of the project AS Stellar begins the transition from exploration to mining.

Highlights:

  • Mining licence application processed by the National Minerals Agency
  • Public disclosure meetings held in relation to the environmental licence application
  • Environmental, social and health impact assessment submitted
  • Minerals Advisory Board (MAB) due to review and consider application

“Whilst we await the formal granting of [our mining licence] we are considering appropriate funding structures for the future commercial development of the mine to take advantage of the robust economics demonstrated in last year’s preliminary economic assessment, which supports the development of an open pit and subsequent underground mine,” says Stellar Diamonds  chief executive Karl Smithson

This phased development model will not only create significant local employment opportunities but also support early cash flow generation and a long-term sustainable operation.  I look forward to updating shareholders in due course on progress relating both to our licence application and mine development.”

During January 2016 two public disclosure meetings were held, one in the project district headquarters of Panguma and the other in Freetown.

These public disclosure meetings form part of the process of the environmental licence application and provide all stakeholders with the opportunity to understand the potential impacts of the future mining operations and associated risk mitigation.

Both meetings were well attended by a cross section of stakeholders and company representatives.

Whilst the EPA now considers the final Environmental, ESHIA report, representatives of Stellar Diamonds will engage with local stakeholder groups to finalise surface rental and community development agreements.

The final part of the ESHIA approval process will then be the discussion and agreement with the EPA of the fees related to the granting of the environmental licence.

The mining licence application is currently awaiting consideration by the MAB and it is hoped that this will be tabled by the MAB at the next available opportunity, though the timing of this is outside of Stellar’s control.

As previously reported, the MAB, after due consideration, then makes its recommendation to the Minister of Mine for the approval of the mining licence.

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