‘Illicit Mining Activities on the Rise’ – Mines and Energy Minister Reveals – FrontPageAfrica
MONROVIA – Mines and Energy Minister Gesler Murray said the increase in illicit mining activities across the country is preventing the Government of Liberia (GOL) from generating millions of dollars in revenue.
Minister Murray blamed the situation on the abuse of Liberian-only mining licenses and the signing of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) between locals and business owners without the ministry’s involvement.
He made the comments during a forum on Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM) and Sustainable Development in Liberia held recently at a local hotel in Monrovia.
The forum was organized by the University of Paris, the International Growth Center (IGC) and the Institute for Quality Research and Development (IQRD).
He pointed out that the formalization of ASM in Liberia has given ministry authorities “sleepless nights”, noting that the sector has not been formalized in Liberia for a long time.
Minister Murray indicated that although the government, through the ministry, issues different types of licenses for ASM mining in Liberia, illegal mining activities continue to increase.
He made specific reference to ongoing illicit mining activities in Gbarpolu County.
He said that although the Class C license is reserved for Liberians only, foreign partners are getting involved clandestinely bringing in heavy equipment to operate.
Appropriation between inhabitants and owners
Minister Murray further observed competing ownership between local residents and owners of most mine sites.
Minister Murray pointed out that due to the situation, locals have committed to signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with companies in exchange for certain developments in their respective communities.
He noted that while the decision is not bad, the exclusion of the Ministry of Mines and Energy from these negotiations is unjustified.
“We are committed to solving the ASM issues and we want to urge all stakeholders to look at what the mining law says. For me, it is not late to formalize the ASM sector even if we grant licenses. The Class C license is for Liberians only, but nowadays foreign partners are invited to operate mining plants using heavy equipment. We will look into this very seriously.”
Revise the law
Minister Murray took the opportunity to reveal that the Liberian government was revising the Liberia Minerals and Mining Act 2000, which he said is “very, very old”.
He noted that it has now been more than two decades since the law was formulated to set standards for safeguarding Liberia’s minerals.
He stressed that “new elements” will be infused into Liberia’s new Mining and Mining Law to make it more “responsive to current realities”.
Minister Murray stressed that modernizing the country’s mining and mining legislation will frustrate and help discourage the signing of memorandums of understanding with companies by locals without government input.
Growing national budget
He said that while the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)-led government was aiming for a billion-dollar budget, the ministry intended to make a huge contribution towards achieving it.
He noted that although it remains difficult due to the growing wave of illicit mining in the country, measures and strategies will be implored to remedy the situation.
Minister Murray maintained that the ministry will take steps to legalize the operations of these illegal mining companies which have not been captured in its database.
He said that in line with the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), the government relies heavily on the mining sector to also provide employment opportunities for Liberians and contribute to the growth of the economy. from the country.
Establishment of a working group
Minister Murray revealed that a special minerals task force will be set up very soon to combat illicit mining activities in Liberia and help increase the country’s national envelope.
He added that the task force will include members from the Ministries of Finance and Development Planning, Mines and Energy, Labour, National Defense and the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA).
According to him, the inclusion of the LRA will ensure that illicit miners are issued licenses effectively and efficiently.
Minister Murray further underscored the need to set aside the tropical zone and rainforest that Liberia currently has in the region and the waterways that are polluted due to dredging operations along the banks of the river.
He further urged participants to think with “open minds” in an effort to improve Liberia’s mining sector and drive sustainable development.
The forum brought together dozens of stakeholders from the mining sector in Liberia and beyond.
It was occasioned by various presentations on Artisanal and Small Scale Mining Policy Reform and Development in Sierra Leone, the Exploration Study in the Small Scale Mining Sector in Liberia – Credit Expansion for Miners Artisanal and Small Scale Goldsmiths and ASM Sector Roundtable in Liberia MRU Member States: Challenges and Opportunities.
He also unveiled a village census and pilot survey report on artisanal and small-scale mining in Liberia’s Gbarpolu County.