Sierra Leone

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Sierra Leone is a country on the southwest coast of West Africa endowed with rich natural resources. The mining industry is dominated by large-scale producers of Iron ore, Rutile and Bauxite as well as small-scale and artisanal mining of Gold and Diamonds. The country possesses one of the largest rutile reserves in the world. It has an estimated population of 8,193,427 (2021) that grows at an annual rate of 2.1%. It has a GDP of $3.87 Billion (2020) according to World Bank. The country is characterized by a humid tropical climate which makes Sierra Leone the wettest country in West Africa. Sierra Leone’s economy stems from its rich natural resources but is still recovering from a civil war (1991 – 2002) that destroyed most Institutions. Agriculture, as the primary occupation, employs two-thirds of the labor force and accounts for 66.8 percent of the country’s GDP (CIA, 2013). In addition, the country is among the largest producers of titanium and bauxite, a major producer of gold, and in the top ten diamond-producing nations.

Quick Facts


Primary Mineral

800,000 Carats

Estimated Reserves

VAT refund on mineral exports

Tax Benefits


Resource Businesses

The economy of Sierra Leone is primarily based on agriculture and mining. Despite a number of issues (such as the lack of infrastructure and skilled workforce) that Sierra Leone shares with many emerging economies, historically the mining sector has accounted for the majority of its export revenues, foreign exchange earnings and the government’s resources and the sector has been the second largest employer in the country. Although Sierra Leone was ranked as the poorest and least developed country in the world by the World Bank at the end of the civil war. it has undergone a period of steady growth until the Ebola outbreak in 2014. According to World Bank estimates, Sierra Leone is the country that has suffered the greatest economic losses due to the Ebola crisis.

Gold and iron ore were discovered in the late 1920s, diamond in the early 1930s and bauxite and rutile in the 1960s. When, in 1934. Mining has been significant to the economy of Sierra Leone, despite recent decreases in key economic indicator. For example, Mineral exports contributed about 0.7 to the national GDP in 2018, a drop from 2.7% in 2016 and accounts for 64% of total exports in 2018, a drop from 91.1% in 2016. Iron-ore production has been a key contributor to Sierra Leone‘s GDP growth. However, due to the shutdown of iron mins, production of other minerals, including diamond, bauxite and gold, increased. Gold is mostly mined artisanally and presently production comes from alluvial deposits. Diamond is also been mined mainly from alluvial deposits at the Bo, the Kenema, and the Kono districts. In 2018, 2 million metric tons of bauxite were produced (valued at USD 71 m) while 113.6 thousand metric tons of rutile was produced in 2018, value at USD 108 m. The total value of mineral exports has dropped since 2016 from USD 471 million to USD 433.1 million in 2017 and USD 359.0 million in 2018. The drop in iron ore and rutile exports mainly accounted for the decrease in mineral export receipts. The contribution of mineral exports to the country’s total export has also seen a decline since 2015 from 95% to 65% in 2018.

Transparent management of natural resources remains a national priority. Sierra Leone’s Medium-Term National Development Plan 2019–2023 includes a target to mainstream transparency and accountability practices into the extractive sector in accordance with the EITI Standard. The president of Sierra Leone (Julius Maada) Bio has made a strong commitment to use the EITI as a tool to bring reforms that will attract much-needed investment in Sierra Leone.

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