Authorities at the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, have taken steps aimed at controlling the polarized mining sector, which is believed to be dominated by “illicit and small-scale miners” across the country.
In a statement issued on Monday, October 28, 2019, in Monrovia, Minister Gesler E. Murray said in view of the report, the ministry has commenced a rigorous exercise aimed at “fixing and formalizing the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining sub-sector.”
Murray outlined measures taken such as banning the use of dredges on all water bodies within Liberia’s borders for mining gold and diamonds; training of mining agents and mineral inspectors being approved and rolled out, and commencing of an institution of training in Smart Mining techniques for local miners around national parks and protected areas.
Other actions include a moratorium (ban, halt) on the issuance of new class ‘C’ mining licenses; and reinforcement of a ban on the use of mercury to recover gold, with violators to face prosecution; banning of field personnel from collecting fees in the execution of their duties, and issuing of biometric ASM ID Cards to all mining actors, urging every mining actor to obtain the ID Card.
According to Minister Murray, said illegal mining activities prompted action by the MLME with the consent of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the National Security Agency (NSA). He added that Liberia’s alluvium field is being denuded by both local and foreign “mining dissidents.”
According to him, information gathered has shown that both local and foreign miners are plundering the mineral resources to the extent that the country is losing to individuals.
He said the stringent measures are important because illicit mining has security implications, noting that the intention with which they mine, which is done to undermine the state, is continually emerging with sources of financing unknown.
There is also a social implication that Minister Murray said involves prostitution as well as the use of illicit drugs. He said that it is essential to place a ban on these activities so that Liberia’s social fabric cannot be eroded.
Additionally, Minister Murray said that illicit mining has not only social and security implications, but economic overtones as well. “We are experiencing economic losses from these activities because the local buyers do not have the proficiency or efficiency to recover minerals in an optimum manner, and so most of our minerals are left into the streams or rivers,” Minister Murray said.
Minerals, the Minister said, when not mined in a proper manner, the country tends to lose in the process.
Murray called on all legitimate miners, including residents of areas where illicit mining activities are prevalent, to report any case of such violation as violators will be prosecuted.
He said that the ministry with support from the World Bank and the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) is implementing activities under the Liberia Forest Sector Project (LFSP), which will lead to the formation of seven mining cooperatives in Gbapolu, Sinoe, and Grand Gedeh counties.