The project area is located approximately 15km west of the town of Makeni in the Chiefdoms of Makari Gbanti and Bombali Shebora in the Bombali District and in the Chiefdom Malal Mara in the Tonkolili District in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone.
The sugarcane estate is approximately 10,000 hectares (ha), planted in circular fields watered by pivot irrigation. Planting sugar cane in smaller circular fields rather than in one big block minimises its impact on local livelihoods and preserves much of the existing farmland and natural reserves. The factory and related infrastructure, fields developed for rice farming and ecological conservation areas cover another 4,300 ha, bringing the effective project area to around 14,300 ha.
The field locations and irrigation systems for the sugarcane estates have been carefully selected, based on dialogue with local communities, in-depth investigations and an aerial survey of the area. This has proven instrumental in protecting biodiversity and existing farmland and allowed the project to steer clear of populated areas, thereby avoiding physical resettlement.
- The sugar cane estate covers an area of approximately 10,000 hectares.
- It will produce about 85,000m3 of ethanol per annum and approximately 100,000 MWh of renewable power per annum.
- The refinery and the irrigation system for the sugarcane estates will be powered by the biomass plant, fuelled with sugarcane fibre residues.
- A capacity of up to 15 MW of power will be supplied to the national grid of Sierra Leone, significantly adding to the country’s overall electric power capacity.
- Construction of the distillery and power plant was completed in 2014 with production becoming fully operational in 2017.
- At March 2015, the project employed 3,600 people.