The Ministry of Mines and Energy with immediate effect bans all dredges being used in Liberian waters by both Liberians and foreign nationals."With immediate effect, the use of dredges on all water bodies within our borders for mining of gold and diamond is hereby banned", says Mines and Energy Minister Gesler E. Murray.
Addressing a news conference in Monrovia, he discloses said the ministry has commenced a rigorous exercise aimed at fixing and formalizing the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM) subsector of Liberia.Murray continues that the ministry has developed a roadmap which will require collective efforts of local government, law enforcement authorities and private citizens.
He details a training program for mining agents and mineral inspectors has been approved and is now being enrolled out, while the ministry has also instituted a training in smart mining techniques for local miners which has commenced around the national park and protected areas, and is to be replicated across Liberia for the purpose of land reclamation.
The Minister also reveals a moratorium on the issuance of new class C mining license will be instituted, noting that a ban on the use of mercury to recover gold will be robustly reinforced and violators will be severely prosecuted in keeping with the law.
Meanwhile, the Mines and Energy boss warns field personnel from the ministry not to henceforth collect any fees in the execution of their duties, saying the ministry in collaboration with the National Identification Registry or NIR has begun issuing biometric (ASM) ID cards to all mining actors.
When asked what necessitated these latest actions, Minister Murray explains a long running situation has prompted the ban on dredges saying, "all our mining fields have been inedited by both local and foreign mining dissidents.
He laments that foreign nationals along with some Liberians were being encouraged in plundering the mineral resources of the country particularly, gold and diamond, adding, "This is a measure that we hope will mitigate the issue of illicit mining activities in Liberia."
Murray is apprehensive or skeptical the kind of hidden agenda some of these mining dissidents are bringing into the country.
"You all are aware of some terroristic attack in Mali and other countries; it is against this backdrop that the ministry in collaboration with relevant government institutions saw it prudent to identify all miners in the country."
Dredging is an activity that is carried out to remove unwanted deposits from water pathways. But even though the activity aids regularity in marine traffic, it is not without its disadvantages, as it poses a huge threat to the marine environment.