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28 May 2024

New Dawn (Liberia)

Liberia: SOAR Mining allegedly engaged in illicit mining with no benefits for local communities, incl. co. comment

" Chinese in illicit mining in Maryland County?" 28 May 2024

Amid citizens’ outcry about its legitimacy, a Chinese mining company, Soar Mining Company, operating in Karluway, Maryland County Electoral District#3, allegedly exploits natural resources in the county without benefiting localities. The alleged illicit mining activity is happening in Gbeken, said to be the hometown of former presidential candidate Mr. Alexander B. Cummings. Miners are using dredging machines. [...] However, during a visit to the mining site on May 25, 2024, community residents told The NEW DAWN that the lack of law enforcement and governance in their area has motivated illicit mining activities, which often compelled them to negotiate with illicit miners in an attempt to extract little benefit from their resources.

They explained that on several occasions, the Chinese mining in that area apologized for violating community tradition, after which they were forced to enter a social contract with them to get some benefits from their resources. They noted that during one of the negotiations, they demanded the Chinese mining company pay 100,000 Liberian Dollars monthly and 2,000 United States Dollars (US$2000) every six (6) months for Surface Rental Fees, but such an agreement hasn’t been finalized. The residents also disclosed that they discussed a verbal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the company that included the construction of an elementary school, paying three volunteer teachers, paving roads to the town, monthly dues, and erecting hand pumps, among other things. However, a copy of the MOU, which the Chinese company has yet to officially confirm, was sent to Senator J. Gbe-bo Brown for review before approval. [...]

Speaking on behalf of the company, the Liberian manager, Nyemah Sheriff, stressed that they haven’t received other permits, including EPA, because they haven’t begun real mining activity in the area. Despite several excavator machines and Chinese seen in the mining site, Mr. Sheriff insisted they’re not mining but engaged in prospection, adding that once prospection is done, they will obtain all necessary documents. The sheriff disclosed that Soar Mining Company began prospecting in February, but they haven’t received much information about whether the place is productive due to other pressures and demands from community inhabitants.