Is Gov’t In Control of Southeast Liberia Gold Mines?

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CVI camp, Konobo District, north-eastern Grand Gedeh County, believed to have been in existence since the 1960s. The town is about 4 hours on foot from the Zwedru-Harper highway.

A rapid increase in alluvial mining activities in the southeastern part of Liberia is creating concern among many about whether the government is actually in control of the huge gold deposits in that part of Liberia, especially Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru, Sinoe and River Gee counties, among others.

A Daily Observer tour of two of the affected mining counties, Grand Gedeh and River Gee, established that the extent of alluvial mining has evolved to the use of yellow machines to extract the gold.

In the mining camp of CVI in Konobo District, Grand Gedeh County, thousands of Liberians and foreign nationals are engaged in the mining of gold, using excavators to mine the precious metal. CVI camp, believed to have been sparsely populated during the 1960s, now hosts more than 10,000 people living in conjested quarters at the foot of a mountain about 4 hours walking distance from the Zwedru-Harper highway.

It is believed that at least a kilogram of gold is extracted daily.

But the questions many have asked are: Where is the gold going? Who are the buyers? How much revenue is the Government of Liberia reaping from southeastern gold mining? What mechanism has the government put in place to deter smuggling?

Alluvial mining in lower River Gee County

“We are just confused about the flow of the gold,” said one Elder Younge.

Referring to CVI, Philadelphia, and many other mining camps in the southeast, he said, “Our minerals are exploited daily with nothing to point to in terms of development in this region.”

In CVI alone, over 10 excavators were seen actively working. These excavators are owned by miners, either Liberian or foreign.

“We paid 40 grams of gold to an excavator owner for 8 hours working, and you pay before work,” said one Samuel, a miner.

“The use of heavy machines to carry on mining will likely deplete this area very soon, because the people are taking over 10 to 20 kilograms of gold from these areas weekly,” a cook shop owner in the camp explained.

Around River Non in Grand Kru, in the community called Joweiken, miners are using floating dredges to extract gold from the river. Most of the dredge users are Ghanaians, believed to be expert in alluvial mining brought into the country by Liberians.

Floating dredge used by Ghanaian miners on River Nor in Grand Kru County

Despite the huge deposit of gold in these areas, road connectivity and developmental initiatives remain a major challenge for the citizens in the region.

There are no good schools or clinics in any of the camps, where dozens of kids and school-age children are living with their parents.

There were checkpoints in and around the camps, manned by immigration officers and other paramilitary forces, including the Liberia National Police (LNP), but those living in the mining town camp said it is only traditional ‘devils’ that impose law and order whenever there is violence.

Gibrel Zoway, an agent of a local cooperative known as CVI Mining and Agriculture Cooperative Society, told this reporter that the cooperative is working along with miners to have the CVI community accessible by road.

“We rehabilitated the road from the main road to this mining camp without any help from the government, and we did this to bring relief to the inhabitants of this locality as well as the miners,” he said.

During the time spent by this reporter in the areas mentioned, there were no local government officials available. When inquired about, we were told that they had gone to Monrovia to hustle for jobs.

“Our efforts in this CVI area have created jobs for many destitute Liberians, who were on streets carrying out lawless acts and creating havoc for others.”

9 COMMENTS

  1. This is a clear indication that the government of Liberia needs to work extremely hard to decentralized the government. what do you expect when you have unequal distribution of leadership and wealth, roads network that suppose to facilitate peoples daily activities for bread-wining and boost the economy are almost not available or deplorable in many parts of the country. How could we blame these guys who left for Monrovia to hustle. if the country is producing graduates every year and they can not crate jobs and the private sectors are limited these things will not change, Leadership can not be effective outside of Monrovia if the government does not provide means to develop other cities and communities in other parts of the country. We got minsters, Superintendents, city mayors, representative, senators etc.. but they all want to work either from Monrovia or in Monrovia. A lot of these guys are getting pay for doing nothing and making fake reports nobody is actually accessing the situations of potentially productive communities outside of Monrovia that can contribute gainfully to the Liberian economy. The foreigners are exploiting our resources on a daily basis because we allowed them to..the policies and concessions that are in place are either being manipulated or not effective enough. Besides corruption is not allowing our law makers and policies enforcers to think. A country this rich in precious metals and other resources can be transformed if there is a unique pattern of traces and projects underwriting. in order for us to stop being spectators to our economy like the the President said in his inaugural speech, First he needs to set up an operational procedure for the entire cabinet and use his executive orders where appropriate to also set up code of conducts for our law makers, because obviously the one they are operating under has back doors on effecting and amending laws. He may also want to establish a very secret intelligent unit and provide them resources to expose these corrupt guys that will still try to beat the system. The Liberian Anti-corruption commission (LACC) can not be trusted they also needs to be closely monitor by the secret intelligence. Meanwhile cities Mayors needs to work more at community level to implement community and neighborhood development projects like community roads, community clinics and other public utilities as well. The government can not do all alone should be a platform for cities mayors in educating the people about community development and the long and short terms benefits and impact it has in the role of economy change. These are very simple terms and my sound common but its working for other countries and there is no doubt that it can work for Liberia too.

  2. Laid-back reactive nation; the Ministry of Lands and Mines has some explaining to do. According to some past residents in few affected locations, officials, the well-connected and foreigners control and benefit from these mining activities while, of course, the government hardly gets anything. The same goes for diamonds. Most observers say that of the three original Mano River Basin – MRU members (Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea) the Liberian government is the only one not realizing considerable revenue from its precious mineral deposits, gold and diamonds.

    If even earlier Liberian governments prefer begging richer nations and borrowing from international banking institutions to investing in our natural resources, what about degradation of the environment from reckless mining, or the polluting of adjacent streams and rivers? Or is the ministry waiting for mudslides to kill hundreds, mines to collapse over fifty, or cancers from chemicals to go on EBOLA-MENINGINTIS-like rampage?

    The under-development and pervasive poverty problems facing our country are so overwhelming; the contentious polarization so elastic, that, in spite of a rare democratic transfer of power, to really move Liberia from the UN Security Council-designated “fragile, fraught, and factional” state, our political leaders must urgently rethink all previously held revenue collection and spending underpinnings. Like in the Iron Ore industry, let’s, for example, get one renowned major precious minerals (gold and diamond together for a start) company to mine and sell with government getting an annual 49% share. Mind you, the company will also need workers, a significant bonus.

    By the way, that’s the model of Botswana, and Sierra Leone of the 1950’s, 1960’s, and early 1970’s. Unquestionably, it’s more beneficial than the laissez-faire (do as you please approach) where land & mines officials, few political elites and foreigners become millionaires though residents not only remain poor and ignorant, but the areas are devastated and diseases abound. Present day Kono district, a one-time diamond hub in Sierra Leone, exemplifies the environmental degradation of free-for-all mining activities.

    Folks, with political will backed by committed planning, we can help solve most of our problems, and reconcile, to boot. What can’t work is asking the downtrodden to wait for a 2030 World Bank Poverty Eradication miracle on which few West African leaders hitched their wagons. Considering the current nativism of the banks’ main benefactor, Uncle Sam, the New York Times issue of Sunday, January 28, 2018 carried a report of Chairman Jim Yong Kim seeking Wall Street’s hedge fund managers and local financiers in borrowing country’s help to “revitalize the hidebound World Bank”. Let’s help ourselves!

  3. Mis-management of our national resources in progress. This must stop and accountability must be put in place for these resources to contribute towards the economic-social, physical development of this region as it is the least developed region.

  4. This is the cause of some peacekeepers coming for piece instead to help the peace during our civil war. This new President is immediately instructed by the silent majority to send his geological adviser accompanied with the new Minister of defense, with a contingent of AFL protection, to meet with the Chiefs, Elders , and miners of this mining area to restore full Liberian self governance of the area and its alluvial with other resources, subjected to and restoration of the Liberian nation’s mining rules and regulations. This will also benefit a better standard of living and infrastructural development of the entire area. May the Liberian people know. Do not reply this box.
    Gone to silent majority.

  5. The people in charge of Liberia’s Gold and Diamond mining industries, are more interested in enriching themselves than anything else. Liberia’s Gold; if managd effectively, can be used to back up the LIBERTY ie the Liberian Dollar.

  6. Liberia minning situation is sorrowful people coming from other countries taking the resources away. No wonder why liberians are poor and will remain poor. These illegal activities can only happen in Liberia where foreigners loot the resources. This has to stop.

  7. The exploitationsecond are not only taking place in mining, but also in agriculture. Ellen Johnson sirleaf gave complete monopoly of the rubber industry in the country to Firestone thereby keeping away other buyers. Firestone buts the rubber far below the current global market price from the local farmers. Local farmers have to have their farms inspected by Firestone annually before they can sell to Firestone, but for the past two months Firestone has been drilling us and failed to go and inspect our farms thereby making it impossible for us to pay our workers and have a smooth operation of our farms.
    How can a government act against its own people all the time? The executive order that Ellen sirleaf passed giving Firestone monopoly of the rubber industry needs to be cancelled. Let the Chinese,Koreans and Japanese be allowed back into the country to buy rubber. That will push the price up some and enable the local farmers get a fair return from their labor. President George Weah and his government need to do something about this situation.

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