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18 Sep 2023

Alvin Worzi, Daily Observer (Liberia)

Liberia: Mining giant faces a class action lawsuit for its alleged pollution of the Marvoe Creek with cyanide, a danger to human health

‘Bea Mountain Faces Lawsuit Over Environmental Pollution’ 9 September 2023

Mining giant Bea Mountain faces a class action lawsuit for its alleged “poor handling” of the pollution of the Marvoe Creek with “cyanide”, which is dangerous to human health. The suit, which is expected to be filed by Cllr. Benedict Sannoh, would contend that Bea Mountain, a subsidiary of Avesoro Resources, has failed to adequately address the spillage of cyanides on two different occasion from its tailings storage facility at its New Liberty Gold mine around Jikandor, Kinjor, in Grand Cape Mount County. “The people of Jikandor will take recourse to the Courts by way of action of damages for the injuries that Bea Mountain has inflicted upon them as a people and community growing from the contamination of their waters,” Sannoh, who is also a former Minister of Justice, said in a statement.

…Bea Mountain, which is a Turkish firm have been a source of some form of economic prosperity for Liberia, providing jobs and contributing to the country's GDP. However, these benefits come with environmental costs that have long been a point of contention with its host communities, which was not captured by the 54th Legislature when hurriedly approving an amendment to the company’s concession agreement, effectively extending the concession’s lifespan to 2051 after granting additional 25 years. The pending suits stem from two the spillages from one of the company’s chemical storage facilities in the year 2022 and 2023, which affected the livelihoods of about some 350 people in Jikandor as the Marvoe Creek, which the people of the town had been depending on for decades became polluted, resulting in the death of aquatic species of all kinds.

…The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in two reports about the incidents, which Bea Mountain has denied, claimed that “excess cyanide” as a result of spillage led to the contamination of the surrounding communities’ water sources. In a statement last year, Bea Mountain said that it was categorically rejecting and disagreeing with the EPA’s finding that “higher than permissible levels of free cyanide with source from the company were responsible for the pollution of the Marvoe Creek and the Mafa River in Grand Cape Mount County.” “We are confident and particularly reaffirm our position of being in no breach of any required scientific standards. In fact, our tailing storage facility is routinely monitored in accordance with international standards by an independent and internationally accredited design company,” the company said.

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