Liberia: Illicit Mining Costs Liberia Millions, Rise in Pornography

-Mines and Energy Minister Reveals; Says budgetary increment to generate more revenue; tackle illicit mining and pornography

The uncounted influx of illicit miners across the country, especially from Ghana, Mali and the Ivory Coast, is not only causing the government to lose millions of United States dollars and contributing to extreme economic hardship, but has resulted to the making of pornographic movies involving hundreds of Liberian women and girls.

Mines and Energy Minister Gesler E. Murray, informed the full plenary of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, May 21, 2019, that the "unprecedented inflow of mining dissidents and proliferation of illegal alluvial and small scale mining activities in the country are very alarming. Besides," he said, "the ministry has discovered ongoing pornographic activities in the illegal mining operational areas or communities."

In response to queries from the House plenary during the 31st day sitting regarding illicit mining activities taking place in rivers and forests, as well as various categories of license issued to miners, Min. Murray said that among the three classes of licenses, only Class 'C' and part of Class 'B' of the alluvial and small scale mining licenses have been misused and abused by the illicit foreign miners. However, Class 'A,' he said, is "going very well."

In his statement, Murray said Class 'A' and part of Class 'B' are intended to help over 70,000 local miners on small scale, "but the influx of the illicit miners, and the recording of pornographic movies are ruining the economic and social fabrics of the country."

Mines and Energy Minister Gesler E. Murray: "The aliens are not only illegally mining, but producing pornographic of our women and girls."

He pointed out that the illicit mining activities are hugely encouraged and supported by the local authorities for some compensation. However, there are many unofficial (porous) entry points to the country, which contribute to the influx of aliens."

Min. Murray said that as part of a program to tackle the unwanted influx of illicit miners, a joint mining taskforce was established, including personnel from the Ministry of Justice.

According to him, during the joint exercise, members of the taskforce arrested at least six Chinese and 10 Ghanaians and turned them over to the appropriate authority.

Meanwhile, Min. Murray has informed lawmakers that the lack of financial support to the ministry is hampering the effective management, and prevention of illicit mining activities in Liberia.

Min. Murray noted that the US$1.9 million budgetary allotment to the Ministry is "extremely low to fight mining dissidents, especially involving nationwide inspection, and purchasing of equipment, including body bag scanners.

"We need an increased considerable budgetary support, but with the US$1.9 million, we were able to raise about US$9 million to support the 2018/2019 budget. So it means, if we received US$4 million, we will raise US$18 million; and if we get US$6 million, we will generate US$27 million," Min. Murray said.

However, the House of Representatives voted for the minister to report all relevant documents involving the illicit mining activities, and the making of pornographic movies to the Joint Committee on Lands, Mines and Energy, and National Security for the an onward report to the full plenary in two weeks, commencing from Tuesday, May 21, 2019.

The ministry was established by an Act of legislature to administer all activities related to mineral, water and energy resource exploration, coordination and development.

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