Liberia: Bea Mountain Faces Lawsuit Over Environmental Pollution

former Minister of Justice, Cllr. Benedict Sannoh.


…. “The people of Jikandor will take recourse to the Courts by way of action of damages for the injuries that Bea Mountain has inflicted,” says former Minister of Justice, Cllr. Sannoh.

Mining giant Bea Mountain faces a class action lawsuit for its alleged “poor handling” of the pollution of  the Marvoe Creek with “cyanide”, which is dangerous to human health. 

The suit, which is expected to be filed by Cllr. Benedict Sannoh, would contend that Bea Mountain, a subsidiary of Avesoro Resources, has failed to adequately address the spillage of cyanides on two different occasion from 

its tailings storage facility at its New Liberty Gold mine around Jikandor,  Kinjor, in Grand Cape Mount County. 

“The people of Jikandor will take recourse to the Courts by way of action of damages for the injuries that Bea Mountain has inflicted upon them as a people and community growing from the contamination of their waters,” Sannoh, who is also a former Minister of Justice, said in a statement. 

Even though Sannoh did not say when the suit would be filed, he claimed that the people of Jikandor were “tired of making multiplicity of overtures to Bea Mountain” to have the issues resolved amicably but, according to him, the company has downplayed such efforts.

Bea Mountain, which is a Turkish firm have been a source of some form of economic prosperity for Liberia, providing jobs and contributing to the country's GDP.  However, these benefits come with environmental costs that have long been a point of contention with its host communities, which was not captured by the 54th Legislature when hurriedly approving an amendment to the company’s concession agreement, effectively extending the concession’s lifespan to 2051 after granting additional 25 years. 

The pending suits stem from two the spillages from one of the company’s chemical storage facilities in the year 2022 and 2023, which affected the livelihoods of about some 350 people in Jikandor as the Marvoe Creek, which the people of the town had been depending on for decades became polluted, resulting in the death of aquatic species of all kinds. 

The other grievances involve the issue of the development of a “restoration plan” through a third-party certified consultancy firm to cleanse the waste and the conduct of a full-scale assessment to determine the magnitude of the pollution as recommended by the government.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in two reports about the incidents, which Bea Mountain has denied, claimed that “excess cyanide” as a result of spillage led to the contamination of the surrounding communities’ water sources.

In a statement last year, Bea Mountain said that it was categorically rejecting and disagreeing with the EPA’s finding that “higher than permissible levels of free cyanide with source from the company were responsible for the pollution of the Marvoe Creek and the Mafa River in Grand Cape Mount County.”

“We are confident and particularly reaffirm our position of being in no breach of any required scientific standards. In fact, our tailing storage facility is routinely monitored in accordance with international standards by an independent and internationally accredited design company,” the company said.

However, the EPA noted that it stands by its report and that the findings were based on scientific analysis and data collected by well-trained technicians and scientists in the field. 

According to EPA, samples from the area of the spill show cyanide, iron, arsenic, and copper, which are dangerous to human health seeped into the Marvoe Creek and the Mafa River, resulting in severely disrupted and injured the livelihood of the communities that depend on “water resources”.

Sannoh, however claimed that since the accidents, Bea Mountain has downplayed the issues of supporting the voluntary resettlement of the village of Jekandor as potential relief to the “community considering the proximity to company tailings storage facility and other facets of the company’s operation” as recommended by the government. 

Bea Mountain is also being accused of relying on its “financial might and political support” to demonstrate callous disregard of its actions.

“Bea Mountain is boasting of not being afraid of the Government or anyone in this country and that no one can force it to do anything that they do not want to do.

“Bea Mountain must stop its boastful attitude regarding their relationship with the officers of the Government,” Sannoh noted. “I want to make it abundantly clear to the management of Bea Mountain that, with God above, the Rule of Law on the ground, and the support of few good men, the rights of the people of Jikandor cannot be buried.”

Sannoh added that the pollution of Jikandor water resources is causing  irreversible harm as it has  made accessing water increasingly difficult for villages of 300 plus inhabitants.

According to him, the issues has not only impacted the health of the people of Jikandor but also disrupted local farming and fishing activities, which are essential for their livelihoods.

“The human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity. It is a prerequisite for the realization of other human rights.

“So let the word go forth that the people of Jikandor are tired with Bea Mountain  and have now resolved to take recourse to the law as made and provided,” Sannoh added. “The people of Jikandor do not have to be the ones running after Bea Mountain to have the injuries sustained amicably resolved.”

Jikandor, Sannoh noted, comprises residents whose lives are intertwined with the land and natural resources that have been environmentally damaged by  the Bea Mountain’s mining operations.