His Excellency, President Ernest Bai Koroma has referred to Shandong Iron and Steel Company as being important in Sierra Leone, serving as a major player in the country’s economy, and export earnings.
Speaking on Sunday, 4th November during a visit to Laiwu Iron & Steel Group, President Koroma said, Shandong’s activities in the Tonkolili Mine have been ongoing for a long time, with expectations from the people remaining clear, The Tonkolili Mine, he said, is also important because of known Ore projections.
Before the ebola outbreak, he said, Iron Ore projection in the country was so significant that the country depended largely on it for the full implementation of the Agenda for Prosperity.
The situation, he said, changed due to global drop in the price of Ore and the ebola outbreak. There was need for discussions, he said, calling for further engagements between the Company and the country.
According to President Koroma, Shandong got 100% ownership during the country’s most difficult moments, marked by a decline in global price and the ebola outbreak, referring to such a period as being turbulent for both the Company and the country.
However, the country’s Ore projections ,the President said, have been reviewed, and with global market now looking good, the country was sure of going back to pre-ebola projections when once that is sustained.
President Koroma paid glowing tribute to the Company for never scaling up operations in the country during the ebola outbreak and was therefore visiting to extend his appreciation to them for standing by Sierra Leone during those difficult moments. He said, he also visited to “consolidate” ties of cooperation.
President Koroma said, he was convinced, there is a brighter future for collaboration with the Company in the area of value addition to the product, further assuring that government would do all what was required for the company’s sustained growth and operations.
Welcoming the President earlier, the Group’s Chairman Mr. Hou Jun thanked the President for the visit, referring to it as being “a great honour” for the Company.
He thanked the Government of Sierra Leone for the support given them when they were working towards gaining full ownership of African Minerals, highlighting the significant role that they continue to pay in the economic development of Sierra Leone.
Shandong Iron and Steel Group Limited got constituted in 2008, when Jinan Iron and Steel Group, Laiwu Iron and Steel Group and Metallurgical Industrial Company were restricted.
With an employee base of 81,000, SISG has a total asset of 249.6 billion Yuan with an annual income of 120 billion Yuan, and an annual profit of over 6 billion Yuan.
It has multiple entities in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and the Middle East and Africa, including its wholly-owned Tonkolili Iron Ore Project in Sierra Leone.
During his visit to Shandong, President Koroma also visited China National Heavy Duty Truck Group, the largest heavy duty truck manufacturing base in China, engaged in the development, manufacturing and sales of trucks, auto parts and special chassis, amongst others. He also visited the Jinan Hi-tec Industrial Development Zone, one of the national high-tech industrial development zones.
In another development, President Koroma on November 3rd, 2016 had fruitful discussions with Mr. Jiang Yikang, Secretary of the Communist Party of China, Shandong Provincial Committee.
Both leaders discussed ways of lifting ties of cooperation at the political levels, commending the level of cooperation between the governing parties in both nations, referencing high level visits that have occurred over the years.
Mr. Jiang Yikang said the visit by President Koroma demonstrated the importance he attached to the Province, further calling for strategic cooperation. The province, he said, values its strategic cooperation with Sierra Leone, referring to the role it played in Sierra Leone during the ebola outbreak, when medical personnel were sent to help in the fight.
Jiang Yikang also spoke of the role that Shandong Iron and Steel Group continues to play in Sierra Leone’s economic growth, fuehrer appeal for government’s continued support to the Company’s operations.
He highlighted the contribution of Shandong to China’s economic growth, disclosing that by 2015, Shandong’s provincial GDP was 6.3 trillion Yuan, making it the third largest economy in China. He also spoke of the role of the CPC in the country’s growth process.
President Koroma in his statement, thanked the CPC Chief for the warm reception accorded him, whilst welcoming the pronouncement made by President Xi Jinping which called for an elevation of relationship between the two nations.
President Koroma also welcomed the 10 FOCAC commitments in South Africa by the Chinese President in 2015, something he said, has created new strategic partnership between the continent and China. Sierra Leone, he said will continue to draw from the 10 point FOCAC Action Plan.
President Koroma commended the special ties of friendship between the APC and CPC, saying there is a lot that the APC has learned and continues to learn from the CPC, also calling for further exchanges and cooperation. President Koroma departs for Sierra Leone Tuesday, 6th December, 2016, Beijing time.