LIBERIA: Consider Resumption Over Decommissioning …Mines & Energy Boss entreats MNG Gold, tours China Union Facilities

65

Since assuming office earlier this year as the Minister of Mines and Energy of Liberia, Wilmot Paye has emphasized that measures ensuring the country benefits from its mineral resources are reviewed and, where applicable, meet required global standards. To demonstrate this commitment, the Mines and Energy Minister has engaged practically, visiting operational facilities of mining concessionaires in Liberia to assess the state of the mineral and mining sector.
Amid concerns from Liberians regarding the decision of MNG Gold Liberia, the first industrial mining company in post-war Liberia, to decommission its operations in Kokoya, Bong County, central Liberia, Minister Wilmot Paye has called on the company not to decommission its operations but to consider resuming them after a suspension spanning several months. Officials of MNG Gold informed Minister Paye’s delegation to their concession area that they halted active mining in November 2022 due to what they attributed to “economic reasons.” Among these reasons was the low level of gold availability in their concession area of Kokoya, which did not meet their recovery expectations. As a result, they disclosed that they are now prospecting in other countries, including Rivercess.
In an effort to achieve the desired mineral recovery, MNG Gold informed Minister Paye that they had sought underground mining approval from the former Liberian government and had built underground mining facilities. However, they still faced difficulties in achieving the desired gold recovery. While touring their facilities, the Mines and Energy Minister and his team of Deputy and Assistant Ministers discovered that MNG Gold had been inactive for a protracted period, resulting in job losses at the concession area. This was detrimental not only to the local community residents, who relied on the concession for their livelihoods, but also to MNG Gold itself.
MNG Gold, a Class ‘A’ mining company, is owned and operated by Turks, who are associated with the Bea Mountain Gold mining company in Grand Cape Mount, Western Liberia. As evidence of their investment interest in Liberia, Minister Wilmot Paye and his delegation inspected the construction of a modern school campus facility in David Dean’s Town in Kokoya, as well as a clinic, a market building, and other infrastructure. However, Minister Paye discovered that despite MNG Gold’s construction of these infrastructure facilities, the local townspeople did not seem to be accessing them, with the exception of the clinic, which operated only from Monday to Friday. In response, Minister Paye urged MNG Gold to ensure that the clinic operates on weekends as well.
MNG Gold informed Minister Paye that they are responsible for the salaries of the medical staff at the clinic, and they have also provided staff residential housing units adjacent to the clinic. Minister Paye informed MNG Gold that he intends to return to Kokoya to interact with the locals about their relationship with the company in terms of fostering cordial coexistence. While commending MNG Gold for having a few women in managerial positions, including the Head of the company’s clinic, the Human Resource Director, and Chief Dietician, Minister Paye urged them to go beyond these ‘set-aside’ positions for females. He emphasized that Liberia needs MNG Gold to stay and explore avenues to ensure that their mining interest in Liberia benefits all stakeholders.
One major concern of MNG Gold’s management was the encroachment of their concession area by surrounding townspeople, specifically referred to as ‘Gold Boys’, who were engaged in small-scale mining. MNG Gold informed Minister Paye that these individuals were encroaching on their concession boundaries, entering their fenced area to conduct small-scale mining. The management of MNG Gold stated that they had been seeking government intervention in this matter, but they had received no response. According to MNG Gold, they were trying to avoid conflict with the local communities and were avoiding clashes between state security and the illicit miners adjacent to their concession area in Kokoya.
MNG Gold requested the assistance of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, represented by Minister Paye, Deputy Minister for Planning Fahnseth Mulbah, Deputy Minister for Operations William Hines, and Assistant Minister for Mineral Exploration and Environmental Research Oliver Gbegbe, in maintaining their mining operations in Liberia. In response, Minister Paye urged them to remain open to engaging with the government whenever necessary.
Prior to visiting MNG in Kokoya, the Minister of Mines and Energy had visited the operational facilities of China Union Iron Ore Mining Company in Bong Mines. There, Minister Paye inspected the new beneficiation facilities of China Union, which have the potential for higher production once completed and operational. Minister Paye was briefed on all the new machine installations by Chinese interpreters; however, he noted that all operational equipment and administrative information, including office bulletins, were only available in Chinese. Minister Paye emphasized the need for English inscriptions on their operational equipment and administrative information.
Minister Paye observed that China Union had completed at least 60% of the construction of its new ‘Beneficiation Production Plant’ in Bong Mines, which could potentially generate revenue for the Government of Liberia once operational.
At China Union, Minister Wilmot Paye inquired why the company no longer had a Liberian Government Representative and called for a review in that regard. He also urged China Union to remain open to engaging with the Ministry of Mines and Energy and the government at large, emphasizing the need for more Liberian representation in their top management structure.
Before these engagements, Minister Wilmot Paye had met with the managements of ArcelorMittal and Western Cluster Class ‘A’ mining companies operating under a Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) authorized by the Legislature.
He and his team are expected to further engage with other companies this week to assess operational realities, among other matters.

Comments are closed.