Massive Restless Pillage, Plunder Breakdown Liberia -As Illicit Mining & Falsifications Of Certificates Become Foreigners’ Accreditation; While The Nation Paralyzes; The Citizens Fall Apart

When the leadership of this badly struck and disgracefully stalled ailing-driven economy based on losing total governance control of the country, comically, and reversely conceded in a song that in his own home town, they want to track me (him) down for something he did not do; indeed, he made no mistake by calling his tracker LIAR MAN surely, he was referring directly to himself as the national liar man, whose leadership has criminalized the governance process.

As it stands, with the country desperately struggling for survival in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), while the resounding plank in the inaugural address of President George M. Weah that Liberians will no longer be spectators to their own economy, conversely, aliens are strongly  and pretty positioned in the driver seat of the economy and conducting all sorts of shady and dubious activities against the supreme interest of the people and the growth and development of the country when the law is being suffocated by the governors to appease foreigners’ quests with their (governors’) vested interests.

In specific term, this nation can boastfully beat its chest of being endowed with vast and varieties of natural and mineral resources coupled with lovely climatic and rich soil including exquisitely promising rain forests with mango swarms yet Liberia continues to be a country with hats in the hands stretching them to western nations’ capitals begging for a drop or handout to survive, instead of utilizing the rich and vast resources to enhance maximum improvements of the people’s livelihood and propel the growth and development of the country- this is pathetically weighing gravely on the country not because the nation is poor, but is being poorly managed with this regime being no exception.

Now, the wave of illicit mining crumbling the economy is too disturbing with foreigners trooping into the country illegally, and most often with intentional acquiescence of the Immigration Sector, and covered or backed by well-placed government officials as partners in crimes as they (foreigners) systematically pillaged and plundered the minerals-gold and diamonds, most often falsifying the mining licenses in violation of the mining laws which stipulate where one should mine depending on the grade of certificates obtained to function in a specific locality and by extension, areas described and clearly defined exclusively for Liberians to carry out their mining activities. The illicit mining has also taken this nation by a breezy force that inhabitants of the various areas currently under the crunch of illicit mining, are victims of their own environments.

The illicit miners (foreigners) with the chemicals used in the process have unhygienically contaminated their water they (dwellers) depend on for bath, cooking and drinking, and with the unconcerned notion about the government regarding the health status of those affected inhabitants, who have complained about rashes grown on the bodies including other severe health hazards they suffered from the operations of the protected illicit miners. Paradoxically, instead of government reaping huge revenues from the mining sectors, a large amount ends up on capital flight after the illicit miners have paid their dues to protectors’ or sometime fronters for a home-based owners wherein the dividends are reported and shared between the shadowed owners and the fronters; thereby stealing from the country, its hard-owned revenues that could be used to support several developments and projects both in the various places their mining is being carried out, and the country at large.

The illegal miners in their illicit mining activities are found in Grand Bassa,  Grand Gedeh,  Nimba, River Cess, Bong Grand Cape Mount Counties, just to numerate a few including Ghanaians, Sierra Leoneans with bulk of them in Grand Bassa and River Cess comprised Chinese who with (most often) fake licenses, overstepped their bounds of operation with unregistered equipment to include excavator and dredge machines; despite the low key medical attentions paid to the local workers when health problems arise, including the occurrence of accident or death on the job.

This is much more than slavery in your own land. When will the people ever become custodians of their own economy and not just mere spectators as evident of unfolding trend of events in complete contrast to what was trumpeted by President Weah in his inaugural address almost four years ago?

     It can be recalled that the bodies of five people have been recovered from a collapsed pit in an illicit gold mine in north-eastern Liberia, a local official has said.

Around 35 people are still believed to be missing after the walls of the pit caved in on Saturday.

The search for the dead and for any survivors is being carried out without specialist equipment by miners using their bare hands.

The gold field in Nimba County is a major center for illicit mining

According to the (former) county administrator, David Dorr Cooper, more than 100,000 people work in the mine, near the town of Tapeta.

He said the field attracts workers from across the region, some of whom are armed. He described the area around the mine as “lawless”.

Local authorities have so far failed in their efforts to shut down the unregulated site.

Poverty and a weak economy mean there is no shortage of Liberians willing to risk death in illicit gold mines, says the BBC’s Jonathan Paye-Layleh in the capital, Monrovia.

Meanwhile, fellow miners have been using their bare hands to remove debris in an effort to free some 40 gold miners who have been trapped for a week, a spokesman for Liberia’s disaster management agency said Sunday.

Authorities are now trying to arrange for an excavator to help in the rescue effort in Gbonipea, located in northeastern Liberia’s Nimba County, said Archievego M. Doe, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency.

The miners became trapped after a sudden soil collapse on Feb. 10. Already seven bodies have been recovered and the government has declared Monday a national day of mourning.

“The gold mine is inaccessible and so the manual effort is proving difficult to get to the trapped easily,” Doe said.

Initially rescuers had been fearful of using heavy equipment because it could hurt or unknowingly kill those trapped alive underneath.

There were signs, though, that the rescue effort was turning into a recovery one. The health ministry was conducting “disease surveillance for possible outbreaks of air-borne or water-borne diseases.” Other residents reported a strong stench from the area where the miners have been trapped.

About 10 people are believed to have survived the soil collapse at the mine, and were treated for broken bones, cuts and dehydration, medical officials have said.

Amid the weekend rescue effort authorities also deployed police and military to the area, where they arrested 65 illegal gold miners who had resisted the presence of authorities.

Regional authorities had previously tried to shut down the gold mine because of the dangers it posed. But in a region with widespread poverty, many still risk death to take part in illegal mining.

With not much else to do, thousands of disaffected young men in the border region between Liberia and Cote D’Ivoire have turned to illegal gold mining – a dangerous, draining profession with scant reward and potentially devastating consequences. A special report from Liberia by the AFRICAN NETWORK OF CENTRES OF INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM.

Underpinning this insecurity is the large number of disaffected young men working for a pittance in dozens of gold-mining camps along both sides of the frontier. Much of the mining is unlicensed and illegal, and the governments in Monrovia and Abidjan have little idea of how much gold is produced, who buys it, or where it ends up.

I wanted answers to these questions, so in December 2013 I travelled to a remote, forested area in the far south-east of Liberia, located in Grand Gedeh County and extending over the Cavalla River into the Tai Forest of western Côte d’Ivoire.

My purpose was to assess the potential for low-level cross-border conflict, population displacement and illegal gold mining once again to destabilize this remote part of West Africa and place a new burden on the already chronically overstretched peacekeeping capacity of the international community.

Moreover, Liberia has rich mineral deposits.  Historically, mineral extraction – particularly of iron ore, gold, and diamonds – has been a leading export sector.

The major minerals are exported mainly in raw or semi-finished forms.  In addition to large iron ore deposits, there are substantial diamond and gold deposits as well as indications of manganese, bauxite, uranium, zinc, and lead deposits.

Diamond deposits, primarily exploited via alluvial and artisanal diamond mining, are widespread throughout the country.  The government issues Kimberly Process (KP) Origin Certificates, which enable the legal export of rough diamonds to other KP member countries.

With gradual recovery in global iron ore prices, iron ore mining plays a significant role in the economy, accounting for 42 percent of total export earnings in 2019.

ArcelorMittal, which has invested heavily in the sector, has both iron ore and metallurgical coal reserves in the Mount Nimba range.

The only large-scale international company currently engaged in iron ore mining operations, its multi-billion dollar mineral investments include 243 kilometers of rail line connecting its Tokadeh Mine in northern Liberia to the Port of Buchanan, roads, electrical plants, housing facilities for workers, and other critical physical infrastructure.

The company is revisiting plans to expand its Tokadeh Mine.  ArcelorMittal is currently producing and exporting iron ore to customers in Europe and Asia.

Artisanal mining, predominantly of gold and diamonds, takes place in parts of Liberia.  Artisanal mining, traditionally carried out primarily by unlicensed and illegal miners, contributes to the country’s economy through royalties and taxes paid by licensed dealers.

A minority of artisanal miners hold small scale mining licenses.  Some of the most lucrative mines are in remote and inaccessible areas in forest regions, and the government lacks the necessary resources or capacity to monitor mining activities.

In 2016, the Ministry of Mines and Energy developed a roadmap to regulate artisanal and small-scale miners to encourage them to organize into cooperatives, which could improve working conditions and attract foreign investments.

However, implementation of the roadmap is still pending.  Since 2013, some publicly traded companies such as Hummingbird Resources and Avesoro Resources (formerly Aureus Mining) have invested heavily in exploration and feasibility assessments in the sector.

In March 2019, the legislature ratified a 25-year Mining Development Agreement (MDA) for Hummingbird Resources, with the option to extend by mutual consent and a framework for further exploration, mine development and production.

Avesoro Resources continues to develop Liberia’s first and largest commercial gold mine, New Liberty.  In the mining sector, land disputes and overlapping mining claims are critical concerns.

-Writes GDJ

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