MONROVIA, Monrovia – Senator Milton Teahjay of Sinoe has brought a complaint to the Senate about what he says is an unprecedented level of illegal mining activities currently taking place in many southeastern counties, including Sinoe, River Cess, and Grand Kru.
Teahjay said the Ministry of Lands, Mines, and Energy has three classes of licenses – A, B, and C. A Class C license is an alluvial mining license, which allows holders to mine stream bed deposits for minerals. Class B allows semi-mechanized mining and is restricted to secondary deposits. Class A licenses allow holders to mine primary deposits.
However, Sen. Teahjay contends that the Ministry of Lands, Mines, and Energy is not effectively monitoring how the licenses it issues are used, and that is resulting in Class C license holders performing mining activities restricted to Class A and B. Teahjay said he wants the ministry to appear before the Senate to provide explanation.
The Sinoe lawmaker said those engaged in the illegal mining activities across the country are predominantly Ghanaians.
“What annoys me most is those that are alluvial miners who are defrauding the Liberian government of millions of dollars – that could be used to improve the livelihood of thousand of Liberian citizens,” he said.
Teahjay named affected communities as ITI in River Cess; Klowen, Menia, Konwonkpo, Diyankpo, Jarpuken, and Karquekpo in Sinoe; and other communities in Grand Kru.
Sen. Teahjay said there is a revenue leakage in the country simply because the Ministry of Mines and Energy is not doing its job properly. This lack of enforcement, he said, is siphoning money that could used to build the economy.
Teahjay said the Class C license holders are using dredges, which he said was exclusively restricted to Classes A and B license holders. A dredge is a mining machine that retrieves gold from sand, gravel, and dirt using water and mechanical methods.
“But the ministry has absolutely no institutional monitoring mechanisms in place to secure revenue wastes taking place under those classes of license for which people are not being licensed to operate with,” he adeed. “The minister needs to appear to answer to these questions.”
He noted, “We need money for this country. We have planned demonstration coming up because citizens are not getting basic social services from the government.”
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has directed the Ministry of Mines and Energy to formulate measures aimed at tackling illicit mining across the country. The decision was reached on Tuesday following the appearance of Mines and Energy Minister Gesler E. Murray, who informed the lower house that the unprecedented mining and the proliferation of illegal alluvial and small scale mining activities are alarming and needs to be addressed.
Murray, however, told representatives that misuse and abuse of licenses were happening most with Class C holders. He noted that some Class B license holders abused the system but it was not as widespread as with Class C. Meanwhile, he said the vast majority of Class A license holders are performing well.
Murray said Classes A and B licenses are intended to help over 70,000 local miners on small scale, but the influx of illicit miners was ruining the economic and social fabric of the country.
The minster added that the illicit mining activities are encouraged and supported by the local authorities through bribery.
Featured photo courtesy of Sen. Milton Teahjay