David Zubah, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inspector in Nimba County, says the Gbanepea Gold Mine is an “environmental death trap,” and therefore, the government should order its immediate closure, though no officials have visited the site since the disaster occurred few day ago.
He has recommended to authorities of the Ministry of Justice to deploy armed police officers to the mining site to maintain law and order as a means of avoiding further disaster.
Speaking shortly after he arrived at the gold mine on Wednesday, February 13, Zubah said there is an urgent need to close the mine without delay. According to him, the mine has been exposed to many holes, which endangers the lives of the young and inexperienced miners.
“The miners have dug so many holes that are likely to cause the death of many of the miners if the mine remains open,” Mr. Zubah said.
Since the February 9 incident that reported about 40 miners being trapped under the debris, Zubah is the first local government official that have visited the scene.
Up to press time last time last night, about five persons have remained confirmed dead, and about 35 others still trapped (presumed dead) under the rubble. There is no roster or record to know exactly how many persons worked in the gold mine prior to the disaster, as the whereabouts of the head miner remains unknown.
The area has previously witnessed series of disasters resulting in multiple deaths, according to the head of the local district in charge of monitoring the mine, Nuah Beah, a prominent resident said.
The proliferation of artisanal mining in Liberia, especially in Nimba County, with the huge presence of youngsters, is becoming alarming.
The government is yet to regulate the mining process as well as the extracted minerals, thus leaving the fate of the gems in the hands of the miners.