The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Liberia has confirmed that uncontrollable amount of slurry containing cyanide from MNG Gold's Tailing Storage Facility (TSF), has been discharged in the Sig Creek and surrounding wetlands with several residents victimized in Kokoya, Bong County. The Sig Creek is a tributary of St. John River.
Cyanide is a chemical compound that contains the group C=N. This group, known as the cyano group, consists of a carbon atom triple bonded to a nitrogen atom.
MNG Gold Liberia incorporated is a registered Turkish company that acquired a Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) from AmbLIB, through the Government of Liberia for its Kokoyah concession in 2014.
On January 16, 2017, the EPA issued a "Class A" mining license to the company after it approved an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) conducted for the operation of the Mines and its Tailing Storage Facility.
The Deputy Executive Director of EPA, Urias Goll told a news conference on Monday, October 2, 2017 that uncontrolled amount of slurry containing cyanide from the company's TSF was discharged in the creek and other nearby wetlands on Wednesday, September 27, 2017, when a rupture of section of the geo-membrane layer of the tailing storage dam occurred.
Mr. Goll said the incident resulted into the contamination of ground waters, disruption of farming activities and illicit gold mining in some parts of Sigwata Town and along the Sig Creek.
He said a team from EPA and the Ministry of Lands, Mines, and Energy was dispatched to the scene on instructions to take some actions to remedy the situation.
Goll explained that two hand pumps in the area have been barricaded and temporarily banned for use by community members, while the company was instructed to take about 26 residents, who allegedly developed health problems, to Phebe Hospital for further testing to ascertain the impact.
The EPA Executive Deputy Director also disclosed that the company has begun supplying food items including 30 bags of rice and chicken products and water to community members as a temporary measure due to the disruption in agriculture activities.
Goll disclosed the setting up of a crisis management team comprising of the EPA, the Ministry of Lands, Mines, and Energy, Ministry of Internal Affairs and the National Public Health Institute of Liberia.
The team, according to Goll, will work with MNG Gold's management to ensure that the situation is immediately brought under control.
He also disclosed that there has been a high level meeting between the Liberian government and the CEO and senior management team of the gold mining company.
Goll assured the public that the EPA is working tirelessly in ensuring that the matter is brought under control.