The Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Mines and Energy, has increased the fight against illicit mining by confiscating several equipment and destroying illegal mining camps within the Gola National Park in Grand Cape Mount County.
The impacts of illicit mining are negative to both human and the environment, and defrauds government of revenue required to fund national development initiatives.
The weeklong operation in the Gola Forest was carried out by the Inspectorate Division of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, mandated by Minister Gesler E. Murray. According to a release, when the Mineral Inspectors arrived in Camp Israel which is adjacent the National Park, all of the illicit miners within the Park fled their respective camps and hid their working materials in failure of being in compliance with the law.
The Mines and Energy Ministry’s Team recovered many hidden items and created awareness amongst community residents about the usefulness of the national forest to biodiversity and climate change, and the need to join efforts with the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and other conservationists in preserving the forest.
During the engagements, the Ministry’s Team observed that in order to prevent mining activities from taking place within the National Forest, there is a need for a concerted effort in solving a boundary dispute involving the residents and the Forestry Development Authority.
The Ministry of Mines and Energy, assures that as provided for in Section 10.1 of the Mineral and Mining Laws of Liberia, it will not, and has not issued any mining clearances and licenses in protected zones including the Gola National Park. Illicit miners easily encroach on the Gola Forest land as the Inspectors observed that mining is the main livelihood activity in the area, which the locals said has spanned more than three decades.
The Inspectorate Team observed that most of the illicit miners carrying out illegal mining in the Gola Forest and other mining camps in Grand Cape Mount County are aliens, mainly from neighboring Sierra Leone. In December, 2020, the Minister of Mines and Energy, Gesler E. Murray, set up a special Taskforce comprising mineral inspectors to clampdown on the use of dredges and mercury, plus other forms of illicit mining across the Country.
The Team has since begun implementing the national mandate of Minister Murray with operational activities in rural Montserrado, the Western and Southeastern regions with plans to reach out to all six mining regions of the Country.