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Workers ask to return at Bea Mountain

The Liberian Government has ordered the resumption of normal operations at Bea Mountain Mining Corporation following days of violent protest and destruction of the company’s properties by locals.

The order follows a mediation between the company and stakeholders including citizens of communities in the concession areas in Kinjor, Grand Capemount County on Friday, Jan. 14.

The meeting was held at the Labor Ministry in Monrovia. Also in the meeting were the workers union, the Management of Bea Mountain, as well as lawmakers of the county; and the Government negotiation team headed by Labor Minister, Cllr. Charles H. Gibson, and Co-chaired by Justice Minister, Cllr. Musa Dean.

Other members of the government negotiation team included Minister Gesler E. Murray of Mines and Energy; Professor Wilson K. Tarpeh, Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Minister Varney Sirleaf of Internal Affairs, and the Director-General of the National Bureau of Concession (NBC), Attorney Edwin Dennis.

Bea Mountain’s operations came to a standstill last week after local citizens clashed with management while targeting the company’s operation.

The citizens’ protest was in demand of the fulfillment of a 14 count resolution comprising several demands made to the company including a 2% exploration benefit. For example, sources say, Laar and Manna, two communities with the concession area are requesting the signing of an extra MOU containing projects valued over US$50 million with the company.

Though this paper is yet to see the resolution and the demands being made by the citizens, sources knowledgeable about the situation in Kinjor say some of the demands being made are not part of the company’s Mineral Development Agreement.

Government sources think that the extra demands outside the company’s obligation are all the responsibility of the Government.

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However, this paper has learned that the company agrees to implement all aspects of the citizens’ demands that are within its MDA.

The company is said to have spent about UUS$12 million over the last 5 years on various community projects, some in excess of its obligations.

Meanwhile, the government has rejected the community demand to replace the private security firm with locals and to reinstate 13 workers that were dismissed by a subcontractor of the BMMC (DEKCO Mining).

Responding to the citizens’ 14-count petition Government through Labor Minister Charles H. Gibson said whatever agreement reached at the end of the intervention will be guided by a compliance mechanism which will include penalties for breach as well as the commissioning of a monitoring committee.

Minister Gibson noted that a committee will be set up with management and community representations, under the supervision of the National Bureau of Concessions, to work with the Ministry of Mines and Energy and the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) to access the records of BMMC from 2009 to current, to establish the basis of the 2% and what constitutes it if that should have been paid to the community as exploration benefit.

But sources familiar with the agreement say the 2% exploration budget to be paid to the local community is not applicable to Bea Mountain in accordance with Section 4 of the MDA under which BMMC is operating. In addition, the 2% requirement is a result of the Exploration Regulation promulgated in 2010. It was not in place when the BMMC MDA was first passed in 2001. Therefore, it is very likely that does not apply to the company. 

The labor minister further disclosed that a technical committee comprising the EPA, MOL, NBC, the citizens and Workers’ Union to move in and verify the impact of the mining activities on the citizens and residents’ homes and other infrastructures.

Earlier, Justice Minister Cllr. Musu Dean maintained that it is the obligation of all parties to ensure that the operations of the company remain peaceful, noting that it is a win-win situation and as such, the use of “country devil” must be the last option.

He noted that the problem of local community versus investors are global issues and called on the citizens and workers to look up to the government for the peaceful and amicable settlement of the situation.

In remarks, the Management of Bea Mountain thanked the Government of Liberia for their timely intervention in ensuring that the workers return to work.

They promised to remain committed to all agreements and to cooperate with the government to remedy the situation.

For their part, the community through their leaders also commended the government for the role played in bringing them together to resolve the impasse.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/bea-mountain-chaos/

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The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).
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