Fafa Sanyang Energy Minister
By Kebba Secka
The Minister of Petroleum and Energy,Fafa Sanyang, has on Thursday December 20th,disclosed that the Gambia has deposits of heavy minerals such as ilmenite, rutile and zircon, in the West Coast Region of the country.
Sanyang made these statements while responding to a question raised by Halifa Sallah, the Member for Serrekunda, during the question and answer session of the Fourth Ordinary Session of the National Assembly.
The Minister in his reply to Halifa said: “Yes, heavy minerals such as ilmenite, rutile and zircon, does occur at Sanyang, Batokunku and Kartong. Mining has not started since the new Government took over, even though a license has been issued to a local mining Company.”
Ousman Sillah, the Member for Banjul North asked the Energy Minister whether there has been any environmental impact assessment done before any oil exploration in the country, as most of the activities are said to be taking place in Gambia’s waters where there are lots of fish resources. In his response, Sanyang said: “Environmental Impact Assessment is part of the license application conditions which must be fulfilled by the applicant before the license is issued.”
He however continued that EIA precedes all exploration activities and that no license can be issued without it; that Mining Companies cannot drill oil from the shores of Gambia’s waters, without a license. In qualifying the manner the Environmental Impact Assessment is conducted, Sanyang said the activities are done in line with the Petroleum Act 2004, and the National Environment Management Act 2004.
The minister of petroleum also told Parliament: “Currently, two oil Companies in the names of‘Far’ and ‘PETRONAS’, are exploring oil and gas in the offshore blocks of A2 and A5.The licenses were originally granted to CAMAC Energy Ltd. on 24th May 2012, through a direct negotiation.” According to Sanyang, CAMAC latter became Erin Energy and farmed-out 80% of its shares in a license to FAR Company in the year 2017; that FAR inturn, farmed out 40% of its shares to PETRONAS.
The Member for Upper Saloum Alhagie Mbowe, asked Minister Sanyang whether his Ministry plans to provide electricity for the Upper Saloum area; that because his Constituency lacks electricity. “Yes, we have secured a project from the ADB and through the ECOWAS Regional Access Program, we will ensure electricity in the whole of CRR North,’’ he assured. He went on to disclose to members that the ECOWAS Electricity Project which is to be funded by the World Bank will cover the whole nation including areas that are partially or poorly covered by previous projects.
Sainey Jawara, the Member for Lower Saloum asked the Minister why the rural electrification project does not cover certain parts of Kaur and Ballangharr? The Minister in his response said: ‘‘In the first phase of the rural electrification project, part of Kaur and Lower Saloum was commissioned in 2006.During the implementation, there were serious funding gaps. That was why the entire communities of that constituency could not be covered in the project.’’ He however assured the communities that there will be electricity coverage through the ECOWAS Regional Access Program. The Member for Old Yundum Constituency Abdoulie Ceesay, asked Minister Sanyang to explain the rationale behind the shortage of water in communities like Wellingara and Nema Kunku. The Minister in his reply admitted that his Ministry was aware of the water shortages around the mentioned communities but added that NAWEC has entered agreement with an Indian Firm called SHARPOJI, to drill additional new boreholes to boost the water scarcity within the area; that this will increase the capacity of water production at the Sukuta Water Treatment Plant in the West Coast Region.
“Gambia Has Zircon, Other Heavy Minerals”
Fafa Sanyang Energy Minister