There is an emerging confusion over the status of Gbanepea Gold Mine where, in February this year, about 40 miners were trampled to death, while carrying on illicit mining activities. The fatal incident drew national attention, causing the Government of Liberia several days later to deploy troops of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) to secure the area and undertake rescue operations.
But, report reaching the Daily Observer Nimba Bureau suggests that a strange mining company has currently taken over the concession area to carry on gold mining, effective after the raining season.
The coming of the new company is said to be causing confusion among the members of the Nimba Legislative Caucus, with one of them claiming that the agreement that brought the company is bogus and did not meet the consent of the entire caucus.
Rep. Larry Younquoi, in a recent interview with local journalists in Nimba, said the social agreement that brought in the new concession company was done without the consent of the entire caucus as it were in the case of ArcelorMittal or Cocopa.
Rep. Younquoi argued that any agreement regarding concession should be meet the consent of all citizens of the county. Where the process from the concession to go to the county account as done in the case of ArcelorMittal, Cocopa and others concession company around the country to be included in the county budget.
Prior to the disaster that killed about 40 miners in Gbanepea in February, there was an agreement reached by the citizens of the mining community and a group of miners known as Sackor and Kartee Mining Company (SAKAMICO).
The very day this company and the community reached the agreement, some group of miners rushed to the mining site to make one last effort to scavenge for gold. Sadly, about 40 or them were trampled to death.
After the February mine disaster, the mining site was taken over by the Armed forces of Liberia to keep eye on the concession to prevent any further illicit mining.
With the coming of this new mining group, under the banner Universal Forestry Corporation (UFC), confusion is emerging among the caucus over how the concession was reached.
When contacted, the Statutory Superintendent of Tappita District, Mr. Aubrey Wehye, confirmed the coming of the new company, but said they came with their legal mining documents from the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
He said the community only asked to carry on some social responsibilities, among them, feeder roads, building of palava huts, toilet facilities, hand pumps and among others.
“We are not bigger than the government. If there is anything the lawmakers [are] not satisfied with, they should contact the Ministry of Mines and Energy or the central government. But, we local officials, are there to protect the government’s interests, especially where there are legal documents.