asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is now in a position to give information on the progress of the co-operative pilot study recently started in Kono, Sierra Leone: if any starting date has yet been announced for the scheme of the Sierra Leone Selection Trust, whereby certain areas would be allocated where groups of selected persons would be supplied by the company with equipment and instructed how to mine properly; and on what basis such selections are to be made.
The pilot mining scheme in the Kono area, which was introduced by the Sierra Leone Selection Trust with the approval of the Sierra Leone Government, has now reached the stage when its control can be transferred from the Company to an African contractor. This transfer took place on 1st April. No further details can be given until this second stage of the experiment has had a satisfactory trial.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that illicit diamond mining in Kono is probably the biggest headache that the Sierra Leone Government have to face and that the Africans feel that the development of co-operative mining, as recommended by Professor Jacks, as quickly as possible might be a solution to this intractable problem which has caused so much difficulty for the Government of Sierra Leone?
I agree on the nature and urgency of the problem. What I have spoken about is contract mining rather than co-operative mining in the strict sense, but I think that it ought to help.