Firms Negotiate Disputed Mine
The two firms involve in the title dispute over the rich gold mine in Gola Konneh District, Grand Cape Mount County are to begin negotiation today as foreign partners fly in.
The two, Mano River Resources Inc./Bea Mountain Mining Company on one hand and the Weajue Hill Mining Company, a predominantly indigenous own on the other, have been locked up in a fierce title dispute over 14 claims situated at Weajue Hill which has been for decades own and operated by the latter.
A special committee established by the Liberian Government to investigate the long standing dispute which has led to Weajue halting its operations for nearly nine months asked both companies to negotiate to avoid further contentions that have the propensity to put local citizens against either company.
Justice Minister Christina Tah said the negotiation was necessary because the committee recognized that one of the parties had been operating in the area for decades- though she did not name the party but rightful ownership points to Weajue.
The disputed gold-rich mining area is located in the western part of Liberia- to be précised in the Weajue area in Gola Konneh District, Grand Cape Mount County and involves 14 mining claims which covers 350 acreage or its equivalent.
A graphic map of the area shows Weajue’s 350 acres being surrendered by the Mano River Resource Inc./Bea Mountain Mining Company 200,2000 acreages. But the latter is said to be laying claims to the 350 acres.
The said dispute which has recorded several investigations amidst claims and counter claims before the latest recommendation by the Special Committee points to Weajue Hill as the rightful owner of the disputed area -at least as far as documents from the Ministry of Lands Mines and Energy can confirm.
A Land, Mines & Energy document approved, attested and prepared by three former officials respectively , former Minister Dr. Eugene Shannon, former Deputy Minister for Operations E.C.B. Jones Jr., and J. Y. Gbarbea, a research officer, shows that Weajue Hill is the rightful owner of the 350 acreage of claims which it operated from 1980-1999 before transforming it to a Class B status in 2000 under the Diversified Group Incorporated, and renewed in 2007, while Mano/Bea has 200,000 claims with Class A lesson obtained in 2001 within the same area.
Other former officials of the said ministry most of whom have sat on different investigations at different periods of the said long standing title dispute between the two companies confirmed to this paper that indeed Weajue has the legal title to the disputed gold-rich area.
Multiple interviews conducted with traditional leaders, elders, women and youth groups in Gola Konneh District Grand Cape Mount County during the nearly month-long period of investigation by this paper (details to be published in subsequent editions) all confirmed that the title of the area belongs to Weajue which began operation in 1975 after former Speaker Samuel D. Hill obtained the claims in 1973.
Several attempts to speak with officials of the Mano/ Bea over the protracted title dispute proved futile. Test messages to Ronnie Addy, Mano Resources Inc./Bea Mining Company local representative were never responded to.
The widow of late Speaker Samuel D. Hill, Mrs. Mabel Fagans Hill, says authorities at the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy have not treated her company fairly as it relates to the ongoing title dispute.
Mrs. Hill, an octogenarian who spoke to this paper from the United States on Sunday said the only thing she wants right now is to see her investors resuming operations that were halted some 9-months ago due to the dispute.
“I would want to see my investors going back to work,” she said, “It is our claims. We own the place.”
The former speaker widow said for government to ask her company to negotiate with Mano that has no claims to the disputed area is unfair.
“I don’t think it is fair to me to take away my right over these people (Mano),” she said, adding “It is not fair to me, as a senior citizen…Mano does not own the place. They (Mano) should be running after us to negotiate,” she said.