Historically, artisanal mining began in Liberia in the1930s and since then, artisanal miners have been involved in a system of mining that have had negative impacts on the environment due to lack of training in modern mining methods and procedures
In an effort to address these problems and to improve the artisanal mining, the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Mines and Energy has put into place several mechanisms to help mitigate the problem. Some of these mechanisms include organizing the artisanal miners into mining cooperatives; train them in smarter mining techniques, methods and environmental management.
Giving an overview of the training, Assistant Mines and Energy Minister for Planning and Development and Focal Person of the Liberia Forest Sector project (LFSP) Johnson S. Willabo, Jr., said organizing the miners into cooperatives will help to, if not curtailed but minimized the high rate of deforestation, environmental degradation and other forms of mine disasters which has become alarming in the artisanal mining sector.
Speaking further, Mr. Willabo said the problem of deforestation in the mining sector has become alarming; noting that there is a need to reduce cutting down of trees, especially the forest trees. He said cutting down trees affects humans and animals and causes the animals to migrate to other areas.
The refilling of pits, according to Minister Willabo, is meant to prepare the land for other uses after mining especially agriculture and also provide safety for animals and human beings as well as a clean environment
The Assistant Mines and Energy Minister for Planning and Development also pointed out that in the Artisanal mining sector, the use of dangerous substances especially mercury to mine, has very negative impact on the human kind especially women.
According to him most people found deformed nowadays are derived from the use of these dangerous chemicals and not witch as always claimed by people. Mercury is a chemical that stays under the earth for years and may travel through creeks and rivers and when people, especially pregnant women drink water from these creeks or rivers, it affects the unborn child during pregnancy. Therefore, there must be a law crafted to abolish the use of all dangerous substances or chemicals in the artisanal mining sector.
Willabo said climate change is now high and the world is getting warmer and the storms are caused by cutting down big trees. He said the training will afford the miners the opportunity to help government fight climate change which is slowly engulfing Liberia, and pointed out that the Liberia Forest Sector is highly threatened and something has to be done to save the forest.
He said Liberia has about 40% of forest reserves and there is a need to reduce the cutting down of trees especially the forest trees because the trees need us just as we need them because they give fresh air or oxygen; noting that the cutting down of trees affects animals and causes them to migrate to other areas.
He emphasized the need for the cooperatives to practice what they have learned if they wish to succeed especially carrying out the land reclamation.
Also speaking, Deputy Mines and Energy Minister for Planning and Human Resources Development Carlton S. Miller re-emphasized the new regulation mandating miners to backfill their pit or will not be allowed to renew their licenses. He thanked the miners for undergoing the training. He said government attaches great interest in formalizing the artisanal mining sector, as such; the ministry will do all it can to assist and ensure that the process succeeds.
He called on the miners to do away with vices that will create confusion and bring division among them and the ministry and further warned the participants against the use of dredges along the various rivers.
During the training the miners were taught various methods of mining including pit laying, benching, and other safety methods in mining.