A group of diamond miners in Bahn, Zoe Geh District in Nimba County, have called on the government to lift the ban on mining activities in the county so as to ease hardship and provide employment opportunity for the young people.
The miners told the Daily Observer recently that the imposition of the ban on alluvial mining in the county, since the Zolowee saga in July 2014 that led to the destruction of properties, had made life extremely difficult for those who earn their living through mining.
Elijar Gaye, a concerned miner residing in Bahn City, said they are finding it very hard to send their children to school and put food on the table.
“We are willing to pay for our licenses and other requirements to the government, but the moratorium placed on mining is affecting us and other businesses,” Gaye said.
Bahn is a mining community where people who live in it and its surrounding towns, villages, and hamlets depend on mining to earn a living; but the moratorium has affected miners in the mining zones, which include Gbapa, Sanniquellie and Buutuo further north.
“The ban is making the government lose huge revenue and also create room for illicit mining activities,” Gaye said. “Therefore, we are appealing to the government to lift the moratorium so we can pay our taxes.”
Sam B. Zoevah said, “We all depend on mining, but the ban is suppressing us so much to the extent that life has become unbearable. We are willing to pay our taxes and meet up with the requirements of the mining law of Liberia.”
In July 2014, residents went on the rampage demanding to be resettled by the management of ArcelorMittal. That uproar led to the destruction of Arcelor Mittal’s facilities on Mount Tokadeh. As a result, the government of then President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf placed a moratorium on all mining activities, especially diamond mining, in Nimba County.
It was reported that those who took part in the demonstration and looted Mittal’s facilities were miners or farmers whose areas were allegedly encroached upon by the operations of Mittal, near Mount Tokadeh.
Although most of them were resettled in abandoned mining and farming areas around the mountain, there was still some dissatisfaction among the residents, with claims that the company was polluting sources of their drinking water.
Since the enforcement of the moratorium, the miners, especially those in the Bahn mining sector, have not been able to make ends meet because their sustenance depends on it.