Mining firm Rutiles repays $18 million to Sierra Leone

16th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

London-based mining firm Sierra Rutile has repaid $18 million (13 million euros) to the Sierra Leone government as part of an early repayment of a European Union loan facilitated by Freetown, state television reported Wednesday.

The latest repayment brought the total the company has given to the government to $20 million in three months.

The company, registered in the London Stock Exchange, was hit hard during Sierra Leone's 10-year civil war which ended in 2001, with most of its equipment destroyed when rebels attacked the mines.

After the war the Sierra Leone government facilitated a loan of 25 million euros with an 8 percent interest rate from the EU with the government of Sierra Leone as the major guarantor.

The loan was taken out for the restart of the company's mine in 2005 and for the EU to assist in the development of the mining sector in Sierra Leone, officials said.

Sisay said the payment would drastically cut the company's overall debt levels and lead to a "further significant reduction on ongoing interest and principal repayments allowing the company to better invest and develop its business in Sierra leone".

"The lump sum payment will give the government a significant extra fund in which to continue investment in the development of the country," he said, adding that "the market for Sierra Rutile product remains strong."

The company operates in the southern districts of Bonthe and Moyamba producing two titanium-bearing minerals.

These are natural rutile and limenite which are primarily used as feedstock in the production of titanium dioxide, a white pigment used in paints, paper, plastics and pharmaceuticals.

According to the company's records, the forecast consumption of titanium feedstock is estimated to be 6.5 million tonnes in 2011, increasing to 8.5 million tonnes by 2020 with growth rates expected to continue at a steady three percent per annum.

© 2011 AFP

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