President George Manneh Weah has with immediate effect vetoed the Mineral Development Agreement between the Liberian government and Hummingbird Resources recently passed by the House of Representatives and subsequently concurred by the Liberian Senate.
President Weah in a communication to the Senate where the mineral resource agreement came from notes there are contradictions in the submission, urging the Senate or the Liberian Legislature to revisit said document.
The President’s communication read in the plenary of the Liberian Senate Thursday, 5 July at the Capitol, indicates that the bill carries 2017 instead of 2018, hence based on the contradiction; President Weah refused to pen his signature on the bill.
Mr. Weah also insists in his veto letter to the Senate that the social responsibility of the company to affected communities does not reflect the Pro Poor Agenda of his government.
In November 2016, the Senate Joint Committee on Lands, Mines, Energy, Natural Resources and Environment, Judiciary, Claims, Human Rights and Petitions, Investment and Concessions, recommended to the plenary of the Senate to postpone the ratification process of the proposed MDA between the government and Hummingbird Resources (Liberia) Incorporated, pending some explanations from the Executive.
According to the joint committee’s report, principally the lumping of four exploration licenses into a single MDA, instead of four separate MDAs and the lack of a plan towards the development and mining of the over four million ounces of inferred gold resources discovered in Sinoe County, southeast Liberia are concerns that need explanations from the Executive.
The committee in its concluding report to plenary, notes that the lumping together of the four exploration licensed areas into a single MDA instead of four in line with the New Minerals and Mining Law approved on April 3, 2000, will lead to revenue loss to the government in the tune of millions of United States dollars, “and significant reduction in social development funds and other benefits to the affected communities in Sinoe, Grand Kru, River Gee and Maryland counties.”
Besides the loss of revenue and benefits, the committee maintains that the areas could be susceptible to limited and impetuous exploration work, which could result into some of the areas prematurely and unjustifiably being declared uneconomical and making them relatively unattractive for future investment.
In the findings of the committee, during the formulation of the MDA, there should have been a provision setting aside a production lot (s) over the areas in Sinoe where the gold has been discovered or the company given a maximum of one year to declare production areas.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Editing by Jonathan Browne