The Liberian Senate is seeking information from the Ministry of Mines and Energy regarding the operation of the small to medium scale mining sub-sector.
The Senate noted that the information is intended to facilitate the discharge of its oversight responsibility of the sub-sector which, according to the recent statement of the President Pro-tempore, has the potential to be a significant revenue earner for the 2023 National Budget and thereafter.
In a communication addressed to the Minister of Mines & Energy, Gesler E. Murray, under the signature of Senator Simeon Taylor, Chair of the Senate Committee on Lands, Mines, Energy, Natural Resources and Environment, the Senate expressed several concerns about the operation of the small to medium scale mining sub-sector (Class C, Mining Cooperatives and Class B Mining Licenses, including use of dredges on waterways).
Issues flagged in the Senate’s letter include that: the country’s mineral resources are not being adequately protected; there is widespread illicit mining beyond control; the small to medium scale mining sub-sector is characterized by the smuggling of minerals; and the sub-sectors are also characterized by environmental management issues such as the destruction of ecosystems, pollution of water bodies and land degradation.
The Senate noted it is seeking information from the Mines and Energy Ministry on the current structure of the Department of Mines and the Inspectorate, including names, qualification and experience of the departmental and sectional heads and their assistants; names of class B license holders and owners; names of mining cooperatives, owners and financial supporters/operators; statistics of quarterly production of each class B licensee and mining cooperative; sale records of class B licensees and mining cooperatives (since the grant of licenses); names of licenses for heavy mineral beach sand deposits; names of licenses for Columbite-Tantalite (COLTAN); production and sales records for heavy mineral beach sand deposits and production and sales records for COLTAN.
The Senate says the provision of the information will help its oversight work to ensure there is productivity, accountability, and transparency in the small- to medium-scale mining sub-sector, which has the potential to earn revenue for public spending and help lift the rural communities out of poverty.