Sierra Leone has cancelled a total of 57 mining licenses as it moves to revive its mining sector.
Majority of the companies affected by the action are owned by local and Chinese investors.
The country’s Mines ministry and minerals agency also cancelled all three exploration licenses of Austrialian-owned Argosy Minerals Limited.
The Perth-based company received the licenses for iron ore exploration in Bembeye in southern Sierra Leone in 2011.
A statement from the country’s director of Mines, Peter Bangura explained that the affected companies failed to renew their licenses despite repeated warnings.
“The general public will recall that on the 13th August 2015 the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources and the National Mineral Agency issued a press release urging some mineral right holders (exploration and mining companies) to fulfil their obligations under specific provisions of the Mines and Minerals Act of 2009. Despite repeated warnings, some of the mineral right holders have failed to comply,” the release stated.
Some of the mining firms were also said to have not been engaged in any activity at all.
Sierra Leone has deposits of diamond, bauxite, gold and iron ore. But the recent Ebola epidemic which killed thousands of people has affected its economy.
Official figures show an economic downturn of 21.5 percent of GDP as a result of the health emergency coupled with the decline in global price of iron ore.