Kinjor, Grand Cape Mount County – An agreement between the Ministry of Mines and Energy and Bea Mountain Mining Company is showing great prospect as young Liberian mining engineers, who are beneficiaries of the program, take significant steps into becoming the future experts of the country’s industrial gold mining sector.
The arrangement, which is akin to an internship program, is otherwise known as the secondment program. It involves the assigning of young university graduates by the Ministry to the private mining company where they are given the chance to advance their experience in the technical and practical aspects of the mining profession.
“It is a provision of the Mineral Development Agreement for the purpose of knowledge transfer,” explains Mr. Debar Allen, General Manager of Bea Mountain.
“While there is no guarantee of employment after the two-year program, as we expand, the intention is to hire the best of these Secondees when possible.”
The company in October, employed four of the secondees – giving them a job that they have always desired.
“My plan was to be a mining engineer; not just to go to school but to be a piratical mining engineer. So, with this job I am happy that I’m practicing my filed of studies,” says Fatumata Binta Barrie, 36, who is the only female amongst the four recently employed by Liberia’s first industrial gold mining company.
“Thanks to the Bea Mountain family for incorporating me into their system; I appreciate it and I’m calling on all of my female friends out there that they can take the challenge and do their best like me.”
Barrie worked with the Ministry of Mines and Energy for two years before she was seconded to the mining company in Grand Cape County where she would work for two years as a secondee. That was after she had graduated from the University of Liberia in 2016.
“Basically, when I came, I worked and tried to do my best and I’m sure that whoever I worked with at the time saw a good reason for employing me based on my own work and commitment,” she said of her preferment by the company.
Although the task at hand is challenging, she is unswerving about her commitment to excellence, adding that working with the company is “worth the challenge”.
“I have gotten a lot of experience here,” she continues. “As a mining engineer coming from school and working in a non-technical area [at the Ministry] and then coming here and seeing myself working in my field of studies, it is indeed promising.”
Barrie and her colleagues are confident that the company will continue to open its doors to future graduates and help them grow into becoming full-grown experts of the mining industry.
Andrew Jusu Hina, 30, is a 2017 graduate of the University of Liberia who also worked briefly as a volunteer with the MME before he was also seconded at the mining company.
“When I first got here in 2018, I worked in the exploration area where I served for six months and then I was re-assigned at the open pit [mines],” Hina recalls.
“Working here is very challenging in terms of language barrel but mining is an international discipline and so you have to adopt to the system and do your best. Here, you work with foreign experts who help you develop, and this is the best and foremost thing about working here.”
Hina would do “his best” and be rewarded with a full-time job just a week before the end of his secondment.
“I call this job a total security,” he said. “Being part of an institution that is recognized around the world as Liberia’s first industrial mining company – I feel proud and know that I will learn the best if I continue to put in time.”
Hina’s fellow 2017 graduates from the state-run university, Melvin Karwah, 28, and Saydee James Roberts, 30, have also been given full employment after their secondment. Roberts says he dreamt about getting a full employment with the company when he began the program back in 2018.
“When I came, I knew that this project is very huge and the prospect is very encouraging, so it was my dream that after my two years, I would be employed to continue my profession here,” he said.
“We were focused and had the passion to become Liberia’s next best engineers and thankfully the company helped us to grow.”
For Karwah, who was employed in October this year by DEKO Mining – a contractor of Bea Mountain — as a blast supervisor after his secondment, the prioritization of Liberians, who are capable of playing key roles, is a good sign for the future of the country’s mining industry.
“This is a sign that the company is trying to prioritize Liberians but if we do what we are capable of doing, maybe in the near future Liberians can be able to occupy key roles in this sector,” said the 2017 graduate.
“For us Liberians to take over the industry, it will depend on us that are already here working; what our output will be is very crucial to seeing more Liberians playing key roles.”
The four young mining engineers are urging other young mining engineering students to remain steadfast and discipline, adding that the future of the sector is bright and there will be massive opportunities for those who are prepared.
“I think more Liberians need to go into the technical areas so that we can be able to cut the gap and reduce the number of expats coming into the country and this will lead us to taking over the mining sector in the near future,” said Roberts.
“I see a great prospect for them,” adds Amos Kollie, a senior mining engineer, who is also the longest serving Liberian engineer with the company. Kollie is serving as a mentor for the four new employees.
“When they joined this company two years ago, I drafted a training program for them which was used as a guidance for them to develop”.
Kollie assured that he and other engineers will continue giving support to young Liberian engineers to help them advance their professionalism.
And Mr. Allen, BMMC General Manager, says promoting its national staff especially into roles once held by expats, makes good business sense.
“As a responsible corporate citizen and national development partner, the Company is aware of the need to contribute towards the enhancement of the national capacity,” he concluded.