11 July 2014

Liberia: Following Mines Violence - Gov't Halts Alluvial Mining in Nimba

The Liberian Government has with immediate effect placed a moratorium on the issuance and use of alluvial mining licenses and permits in Nimba County, pending determination of the full effects and associated cost of the recent violence on ArcelorMittal's operations in the county.

Accompanied in the Foyer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by House Speaker Alex Tyler and Senate Pro-Tempore Gbezhongar Milton Findley, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf said government regrets the destruction and looting ArcelorMittal incurred. ArcelorMittal is the world's leading steel and mining company, with a presence in more than 60 countries and an industrial footprint in over 20 countries.

In a nationwide address Thursday afternoon, President Sirelaf said she will appoint a prominent counselor to chair a board of inquiry to undertake a detailed investigation of the root and other causes associated with the violence.

On July 3, 2014, youths in Nimba under the banner, Tokadeh Progressive Youths for Peace and Development from several towns, including Zolowee, Gpaba, Mehkinto and Sehkimpa staged a violent demonstration, erecting roadblocks to ArcelorMittal's railroads, offices, and destroying company properties.

In confrontation with riot police, who were launching tear gas canisters, the demonstrators allegedly fired guns at officers of the Emergency Response Unit and the Police Support Unit, reportedly wounding six police officers.

The protestors claimed they took the action to register their displeasure against the Ganta-Yekepa Highway, the County Social Development Fund and other issues affecting their communities.


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