11 July 2014

Liberia: Moratorium Placed On Issuance & Use of Mining Licenses, Permits in Nimba

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has announced that the Government of Liberia (GoL) will "dutifully undertake the repair of damaged roads and bridges" in Nimba County, following a violence attack on the properties of Arcelor Mittal in the county.

Arcelor Mittal is the world leading steel mining company that operates in Nimba and Grand Bassa Counties in Liberia.

It can be recalled that recently, several aggrieved youths stormed the facilities of the company, destroying properties worth thousands of United States Dollars.

The violent protest was later called off following the intervention of officers of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) of the Liberia National Police.

The protesters claimed that the company is not living up to its social responsibility enshrined in the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) signed with the Liberian government.

According to the Liberian leader, government will underwrite the cost of the damaged roads and bridges directly from the Development Fund of Nimba County.

She made the pronouncement on Thursday, July 10, 2014 at a news conference held at her Ministry of Foreign Affairs office in Monrovia.

The President added that the cost for damages on the properties of Arcelor Mittal would be discussed between the company and the Liberian government.

"As it's to be expected, the Government of Liberia will dutifully undertake the repair of the damaged roads and bridges, but the cost will be sourced from funds directly allocated for the development of Nimba County.

The cost to repair the damages and replace the properties when determined will be a subject of discussion between the government and Arcelor Mittal," she stated.

Speaking further, the Liberian chief executive also announced the placement of a moratorium on the issuance and use of mining licenses and permits in Nimba County with immediate effect.

She pointed out that the suspension of mining licenses or permits in the county would be in place until full and associate causes of the attack on the company are known.

She added that a board of inquiry expected to be headed by an eminent counselor would be established to undertake a "detailed investigation" of the incident in Nimba.

President Johnson-Sirleaf stated that the latest incident in Nimba is a consequence of the "abuse of freedom."

Meanwhile, the President has extended an apology to Arcelor Mittal for and on behalf of the Liberian government and its people for the damages caused to the operations of the company.

The Liberian leader mentioned that all those involved in the incident would be prosecuted in lines with the laws of Liberia.

"Attempts were made by the attackers to burn an important access bridge and damage the road leading to the mining facility.

On behalf of the government and people of Liberia, I extend profound regret to the Arcelor Mittal family. Although the full extent of the direct and associate damage is still being evaluated, for the GoL, attacks on private company are attacks on the economy and the future of our country. Our collective response must be decisive. Accordingly, all accused participating in these destructions will have their full day in court as quickly as possible," she said.

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