Gov’t Presents New Mining Company to Citizens of Nimba

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Chief Barlon welcoming the team of Ministry of Mines and Energy officials in a traditional way to Nimba.

The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Mines and Energy on July 22, 2020, presented another mining company company to the citizens of Nimba in an elaborate ceremony, which was held in the provincial capital, Sanniquellie.

Presenting the new company, the Deputy Minister for Operations, Emmanuel O. Sherman, told the citizens that the government has licensed a company known as “SOLWAY Mining” to carry on mining exploration in the north-eastern part of Nimba, precisely on two mountains in the Gbar and Zor Community Forest.

According to him, the period of exploration will be for three years and, if the investor or the company is satisfied with the exploration result in terms of profitability, then the government will reach a Mineral Development Agreement for actual mining activities.

“SOLWAY Mining has a legitimate license issued by the government to carry on exploration, while the ArcelorMittal Liberia also has a legitimate license to do mining of iron ore for 25 years,” he said.

There have been some controversies over who has control of the eastern part of the Nimba mountain range. ArcelorMittal Liberia has her concession and is currently mining Mount Gangra and Mount Torkadeh in the western part of the range.

AML has claimed title to entire Nimba range and has asked the government to revoke the license of SOLWAY Mining, but AML’s ownership claim created tension among the citizens of the affected communities and the county at large. A group, named “Nimba Education Guide”, planned a demonstration against the activities of AML, but the planned demonstration was later aborted, after some intervention from some elders of the county.

In his presentation statement, Min. Sherman said the concession area given to SOLWAY Mining does not fall under ArcelorMittal Liberia’s concession area and urged the citizens to cooperate and respect the agreement between the government of Liberia and SOLWAY Mining for mineral exploration.

“Government is under obligation to protect both the rights AML and SOLWAY Mining in their mining activities and neither of these companies has the right to stop the other from working, except the Government of Liberia,” he said.

Prior to the presentation ceremony, it has been insinuated in the county the that the Ministry of Mines and Energy will show the citizens the geological map of northern Nimba, demarcating the AML concession and that of SOLWAY. Contrary to this, Min. Sherman referred the citizens to the ministry’s website.

In the year 2009, the Forestry Development Authority and the citizens of Gbar and Zor reached a communiqué for the citizens from the two chiefdoms to manage and conserve their own forest from logging, mining, hunting and other extractive activities.

This stretch of forest extends as far as the borders with Guinea and Ivory Coast in the eastern part of Mount Nimba.

Today, this portion of the forest is known as “East Nimba Nature Reserve” and it was enacted into law in 2003 during the brief regime of former President Moses Z. Blah.

The head Community Forestry Management Body (CFMB) of Liberia cautioned the government to include the citizens in decision making in the mining sector as it was done by the FDA, where the community is responsible to manage their own forest.

The local authorities, headed by Supt. Nelson Korquoi, extended their thanks and appreciation to the government and vowed to provide all necessary protection to any of these facilities.

He told the citizens to be law abiding and stop any behavior that deters investors from coming into the country, but channel their grievances in an orderly and constructive manner.

SOLWAY Mining is a Swiss based company operating in several countries around the world, according to Mr. Theo Dennis, SOLWAY Comptroller.

12 COMMENTS

  1. So what is the actual purpose for going to Nimba to present good news to the citizens of that County ? To let them know a new company is about to operate in that county , and the citizens should be aware of their activities, not harm their operations ? How much is the license or how much was paid to the government, and how much is the regime hiding from the citizens? Why the amount paid to the regime not part of the good news brought to the county ? This business of the regimes of that country babysitting for the county and its citizens must be a thing of the past. This is 2020 and the nation is 173 , not regime should be babysitting any county anyone. This is not 1847, so where is the money and how much was paid to the regime ? If the regime cannot tell the citizens who are desperately in need of their share of the deal, than get that company off the county’s resources. These back doors ugly deals of babysitting the county and its citizens have never worked for them. Here is the regime talking about another 25 years if. If what ? And then what’s next ? The same old song about Liberians will be sent oversea for special training, roads with be constructed, colleges will be built and the county and districts will be like New York City ? Citizens working for the so-called new company will be earning 5 UD per hour ? The Republic been there and done that, and ended up as failure. Darkness everywhere, lack of safe drinking water everywhere. And most interestingly, with all the natural resources agreements signed , the regime’s International Aid Partners have to make donations toward construction of roads, bridges, electricity, safe drinking waters, health care facilities, national budget and so on and on. Can’t afford to tell the citizens how much was the payment for the exploration, get that company out of there. As usual and due to voluntary illiteracy of the citizens, the best illiterate person to deal with is their illiterate chiefs. Not even the political figurehead Superintendent of the county has no understanding about how the deal went through to even explain it to the citizens. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signed a palm oil concession deal with companies, and under pressure from the citizens, the former President asked that the citizens should live with the mistake of her regime. She actually said that. No more babysitting for the counties. While the counties are looking out for the arrival of foreign aid. While the resources are taking away without benefits or developments. So where is the people’s shared of the money paid to the regime. And how much was it ? Get the company out of there until all negotiated facts are presented to the citizens and all questions answered. Get them out !

  2. James Davis,
    Stop right there for a second. Take a look at one of your sentences above and be prepared to answer the following question.

    Say you, “citizens working for the so-called new company will be earning 5 ud per hour”?

    James Davis, are you secretly working for the CDC government? Well, if you are not, how do you know whether $5 US will be paid to the new employees? Where did you obtain that information?

    Is that your independent thought?

  3. What we need to start doing is to improve our human capital or else foreigners will come and benefit from this other mining prospection.

  4. Another LAMCO in the making, I presume? Everything will be taken with no development, not even a farm-to-market road!

  5. What a strange timing! Just like a Rip Van Winkle who has awaken from his memory loss, the Weah government has all of a sudden started talking about job creation for the struggling masses in Nimba, and this is happening right around the eve of an election that could be promising to be one of the most contentious in the upcoming re-election season.

    Nevertheless, while I do not down cry the shots taken at trying to create jobs and better the lives of people, comments made by Mr. James Davis do provoke some serious reflections particularly the manner in which mineral extractions in Liberia had always left the country poor. Worst still, mineral extractions had always dichotomized the society socio-economically and socio-politically in that the proceeds from their sales went only to benefit the power brokers and the top tier of the society while leaving the bottom strata struggling for the crumbs.

    This trend is extremely dangerous and it often leads to social strife and internecine warfare. For example: What led to the April 12 coup d-etat and the 14-year conflict? The answer to this question often goes back to the inequitable distribution of wealth which as I stated earlier only benefited the top 1% segment to the detriment of the other 99% (poor, weak and powerless folks).

    Another example: I was surprised about a few weeks ago, when I learned that the Nimba County authorities were about to sue the government because the government refused to disburse county development funds which it (the government) owes the county for foreign companies extracting minerals in the county, According to reports, The amount was over 3-million dollars.

    This scenario brought into memory some of the causes that led to the bitter Biafran War fought in Nigeria in 1967 because of economic injustices brought against the inhabitants of that region. Why did the GOL wait for the citizens of the county to demand and agitate for what was rightfully theirs? What was the rationale behind such tactics? Is this the new normal, or is this how they are going to be treated that they must threaten to sue the government for their county development funds?

    Don’t the Weah government understand the marginalization of people or groups of people because their kindreds are not the ones who have the last political sway could lead to secession (some groups asking to break away from the state)?

    Sometimes, I tend to follow the thought process of the speaker who says he always pray that Liberia should not discover mineral wealth in large quantities under any administration, like the Weah’s, because the “curse of natural resources” will most certainly destroy the country and shred its moral fibre.

  6. No Concession deals sign in this day and age. should allow any comany take our resources out of #Liberia without opening finish processing plants in country. ALL others shld be revisited and same should apply.
    #Liberianization we
    MUST lift our people out of poverty!

  7. The late Kofi Annan once said, “Let us be good stewards of the Earth we inherited. All of us have to share the Earth’s fragile ecosystems and precious resources, and each of us has a role to play in preserving them. If we are to go on living together on this earth, we must all be responsible for it.”

    I pity Liberian leaders for not adhering to these wise words of the late Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nation. Liberia’s precious resources are being exploited with little benefits added for ordinary Liberians in return. Here comes another exploiter called “SOLWAY Mining.”

    I remember the vast exploitation of rubber and iron ore from these places in Liberia: Bomi Hills Mines, Bong Mines, Mano River Mine, LAMCO, Firestone, B.F. Goodrich Rubber Plantation, Cavalla River Rubber Plantation, VAMPLY, just to name a few when I lived in Liberia during the 70s. What value did these multi-national companies add to ordinary Liberian lives? Some were in operations since the 30s, 40s 50s & 60s.

    The late Kofi Annan said, “Let us be good stewards of the Earth we inherited.” Liberians must also be good stewards of the natural resources they inherited. Now, the Chinese are in Liberia to mine. The Indians are in Liberia to mine. The Swiss are now in Liberia to carry out exploration (exploitation) in the East Nimba Nature Reserve.

    What values are these multi-national companies adding to the lives of ordinary Liberians that need the greatest help to become self-empowered? What opportunities are these companies giving these poor Liberians who live in these mining areas to do something about their economic needs, their wants, their opinions, their beliefs, and their feelings about their natural resources?

    As long as these international companies come to Africa only to take away Africa’s vast natural resources without adding economic values to the lives of African people, the continent will remain a place of exploitation without economic empowerment.

    Liberia for too long has seen its natural resources exploited/depleted with minimum benefits: all its raw material shipped overseas without any tangible value added in terms of manufacturing processing plants, infrastructure development nor human capacity development.

    This new “Solway Mining” is déjà vu playing all over again in Liberia since Firestone first stepped foot in Liberia in 1926. I pity Liberian leaders for this gross exploitation/depletion of Liberia’s natural resources with little value added to benefit the Liberian people.

    Where is the accountability? How can you undervalue your people and their natural resources? Wake up my people! This is a new Liberia not the 1950s!

  8. This is the right time that the Citizens of Nimba, NOT the so-called and self enriching custodians of the county, step up to advocate the county’s rights. The rights to participate in decisions that affect its citizens. This no time to leave our fates in the hands of little or no trustful people.
    I will recommend that, UNICCO, as was in the case of AML, intervene by reviewing the so-called exploration contract and make proper recommendations. Such exploration, under the current and individuals in government could careless about what happens to the citizens during the so-called exploration period.
    If this statement is correct: – Today, this portion of the forest is known as “East Nimba Nature Reserve” and it was enacted into law in 2003 during the brief regime of former President Moses Z. Blah. – We need to take the necessary stand.
    Newton Sahn

  9. Sr. Engineer, Geophysicist: Peter Curran (Yarkpajuwur N. Mator 2017-Independent Presidential Candidate)

    Nobody will built Liberia besides Liberian.
    Hey you, companies are not coming to built your country but to make money. No nation will do that for Liberia.

    Look at Bomi Hills, Bong Mines, Lamco, Firestone, BFGoodrich, etc. What has Liberia gotten from these investments, companies?
    If you did not do Science and Engineering, you have very little to give to Liberia; you will not know what to do in such a backward country. Crown it with the saying “book is not important”.

    Liberia will NOT move forward because of her massive illiteracy.

    Only the better educated in our needed areas (Know-Hows, Skillsets, industries, etc) can move Liberia forward.

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