Assistant Mines and Energy Minister Emmanuel T.T. Swen has underscored the need for national government to prioritize sectors that will generate more revenue for the country.
“It’s about time that the national government identifies revenue generating sectors to bring growth and development to the country and its people”, he said.
He spoke on Friday, October 2, 2020 at the launch of the Youth Natural Resource Governance Platform organized under the auspices of the Federation of Liberian Youth or (FLY) in Monrovia.
Making specific reference to the mining sector, he stated that if a comparative analysis is done and research has shown that mining will bring in more money than national park then it is key that said initiative be prioritized.
“What comes out of our mineral resources should be used in time and to help develop other sectors of the Country.”
He disclosed that people mainly miners are now trooping into the Gola Park due to the discovery of diamond in Sierra Leone, adding that Kimberlite, a source of special rock that signals the location of diamonds in any given area has been discovered along the Gola Park, so more people are now rushing to said area.
He wondered in such a case, should the park be maintained or should mining activities go on in the area, suggesting that among the two, what will eventually bring or generate more money for the country generally, should be prioritized.
“It is about time that people in concession areas be more aware and knowledgeable about legal formalities leading to the signing of agreements for the sole purpose of extracting their natural resources in order to avoid the multiple of protests and violence mainly seen in concession areas due to the lack of proper and adequate information to the locals or residents of concession areas”, Mr. Swen advised.
The Assistant Minister further stressed the importance for young people in Liberia to get actively involved in advocacy on how natural minerals are properly managed for the betterment of future generations of Liberians.
He explained that when a mineral is extracted from the soil, it takes what he calls geology and or a very long time or decades before it can be replaced as such, he said, it is imperative that the current ones be well and properly managed so that the direct beneficiaries will enjoy from the nation’s resources.
Providing some statistics about the sector, the Assistant Minister Swen revealed that about 80% of artisanal miners are young people, who normally abandon schools at the detriment of their future, making specific reference to Grand Kru County, southeast Liberia, where he visited recently.
“They do not know when they should be in school and when to go on the mines and this is worrisome for our future growth process”, he lamented.
Meanwhile, Swen has urged the young people of Liberia through FLY to get more involved in creating massive awareness and education for their colleagues in the sector to avoid having a big gap of uneducated and unprepared young people in the coming years.
He added that gender, human rights and inaccessibility among others are issues normally observed in mining areas, which need to be addressed.
By Lewis S. Teh–Editing by Jonathan Browne