Capital Equipment News

To say that Sierra Leone is rich in resources would be an understatement. Rutile, bauxite, gold and iron ore all number among the country’s abundant minerals. However, its diamonds the country is most famous for. Since diamonds first became a girl’s best friend in the early 1930s, it is estimated that Sierra Leone has produced over 500 million carats (100 tonnes) of the precious mineral. The diamond fields in the east of the country are equally gigantic, estimated to extend over 7 770 km².

Volvo Sieera Leone 03 2018

Prior to the civil war in 1991, mining was easily the most important economic driver for the West African country, accounting for around 80% of export earnings and 20% of GDP. However, during the conflict, the trade in Sierra Leone’s diamonds became controversial. When the war ended in 2002, the government needed to reassure its overseas customers that all elements of its diamond trade were ethically acceptable.

Meya Mining, based just outside Koidu, is committed to responsible and ethical diamond mining. It mobilised in October 2016 and holds a four-year exploration licence for a 130-km² kimberlite reserve that spans from the Kamara Gbense to the Tankoro chiefdoms in the diamond-rich Kono District. Within Meya’s licenced area, 16 kimberlite dykes have been identified. Each dyke is approximately 12 km long, 1,5 m wide, and runs deep underground.

Meya employs over 200 people at the mine, including around 40 machine operators. 90% of the employees have been recruited locally; the other 10% are experienced mining specialists who help to train the main bulk of the workforce. “We are keen to prove that diamond mining can be good for the local communities,” says Dino Coutinho, chief operating officer at Meya Mining. “We take corporate social responsibility seriously, and we have put many ecological and economic plans into motion to demonstrate this.”

To mine and help process the kimberlite, Meya is using a fleet of Volvo excavators, articulated haulers and wheel loaders, which were purchased when operations began in 2016.

“As far back as I can remember, we have always used Volvo machines at our mines,” says Coutinho. “The fuel efficiency, uptime and performance are unmatched. Our operators are particularly fond of the manoeuvrability of the machines, as it means they can navigate through the tight spaces of the mine with ease.”

The machines were provided by Volvo dealership A. Yazbeck And Sons, based in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown. Joseph Yazbeck, the owner of the dealership, along with his brother Assad, has maintained a close relationship with Meya Mining CEO Jan Joubert since 1997, helping him with mining ventures in the region.

“We have always had good support from Yazbeck and Volvo, who, in my opinion, is the best earthmoving supplier in Sierra Leone,” says Joubert. “They supported us with a credit line, brought us the new earthmoving fleet and enabled us to achieve our timeline.”

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