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Mining licenses risk cancellation 

-As Ministry of Mines seeks legal advice

Holders of mining licenses across Liberia risk losing their licenses as the Ministry of Mines and Energy in Monrovia seeks legal advice to revoke mining licenses obtained since 2018.

By Kruah Thompson 

Monrovia, Liberia, May 23, 2024—Mines and Energy Minister Wilmot Paye has disclosed that he has sought a legal opinion from the Ministry of Justice about a plan to revoke or cancel mining licenses obtained since 2018, citing compromise.

According to him, systems and processes established after 2006 were compromised in 2018, undermining the Mineral Sector Governance.

Speaking at the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs, and Tourism Regular Press Briefing on Tuesday, May 21, Minister Paye further revealed that several letters from the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs directed the Ministry of Mines and Energy to forward mining/mineral license applications to the Office of the President for review, which raised concerns about proper oversight and governance.

He explained that the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs wrote to the Minister of Mines and Energy a letter stating, “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.”

Paye continues that on August 14, 2018, the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs again wrote, “Mr. Minister: This is to inform you that HAMAK Mining Company has been vetted and cleared to issue an exploration license. In this connection, you are requested to allow the company to proceed with processing its license. Please find below the application # for your ease of reference: APL-1-5736 APL-1-5735 APL-1-5734 APL-1-5738.”

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On the same day, August 14, 2018, the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs also wrote, “Mr. Minister: This is to inform you that the following companies have been vetted and cleared for the issuance of licenses: 1. ASIA Development Investments Incorporated—Titanium Exploration Licenses 2. TRIPOLOGIC LIMITED—Class B Prospecting Gold Mining License. You are requested to allow these companies to proceed with processing their licenses.”

Furthermore, on October 25, 2018, another letter from the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs to the Minister of Mines and Energy stated, “Mr. Minister: This is to inform you that Terra Engineering Company has been vetted and cleared for the issuance of Class ‘B’ and Quarry License. You are requested to allow the company to proceed with processing its license.”

Similar notifications followed on October 25, 2018, and December 10, 2018, respectively, with various companies being cleared for licenses, as detailed in the letters.

However, despite these notifications, Minister Paye observed there is lack of evidence in those letters, indicating a commitment to safeguarding Liberia’s natural resources for the benefit of its citizens. Instead, he noted that the letters demonstrate a disregard for statutory duties and functions entrusted to the Ministry of Mines and Energy by the Legislature.

He emphasized the need to safeguard the country’s natural resources for the benefit of all Liberians, noting that the ongoing review revealed a disregard for statutory duties and functions.

Mr. Paye assured the public of his commitment to rectifying the situation with the President’s support, aiming to break the shackles holding back the mineral sector.

Meanwhile, pending legal opinion, the Ministry of Mines and Energy continues reviewing and preparing default notices for potential violators, with plans to enhance capacity at the local government level.

It is also reviewing the Mining and Minerals Law of 2000 and working towards formalizing the Artisanal and Small-scale mining sector more aggressively and practically.

The Ministry aims to replace the ineffective system with county-level supervision for better functionality. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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