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Thursday, June 20, 2024

MINING LICENSES UNDER SCRUTINY: MINISTER SEEKS TO REVOKE COMPROMISED PERMITS

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MONROVIA – Holders of mining licenses across Liberia risk losing their licenses as the Ministry of Mines and Energy in seeks legal advice to revoke licenses obtained since 2018. Minister Wilmot Paye has disclosed that he has sought a legal opinion from the Ministry of Justice about a plan to revoke or cancel these mining licenses, citing systemic compromise.

Minister Paye explained that systems and processes established after 2006 were compromised in 2018, undermining the governance of the mineral sector. Speaking at the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs, and Tourism’s regular press briefing on Tuesday, May 21, he revealed that several letters from the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs directed the Ministry of Mines and Energy to forward mining license applications to the Office of the President for review, raising concerns about proper oversight and governance.

One such letter, dated August 14, 2018, stated, “Mr. Minister: This is to inform you that West Mining Limited has been reviewed and cleared for the issuance of Gold & Diamond Exploration Licenses. Accordingly, you are requested to allow the company to proceed with processing its licenses. Please find the application numbers below for your ease of reference: APL-1-5732 APL-1-5733.”

Further letters followed on the same day, authorizing HAMAK Mining Company and other companies for license issuance. These letters, Minister Paye argued, demonstrated a disregard for the statutory duties and functions entrusted to the Ministry of Mines and Energy by the Legislature, lacking evidence of a commitment to safeguarding Liberia’s natural resources for its citizens’ benefit.

Minister Paye emphasized the need to protect the country’s natural resources, highlighting that the ongoing review has revealed a disregard for statutory responsibilities. He assured the public of his commitment to rectifying the situation with the President’s support, aiming to break the constraints hampering the mineral sector.

Pending legal opinion, the Ministry of Mines and Energy continues to review and prepare default notices for potential violators. It plans to enhance local government capacity and is also reviewing the Mining and Minerals Law of 2000. The Ministry aims to formalize the artisanal and small-scale mining sector more aggressively and practically, intending to replace the ineffective system with county-level supervision for better functionality.

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