House Probes Bea Mountain Concession over Alleged Violation of Mining Agreement

Rep. Bob Sheriff said the company is also in breach of section 36.1 of the MDA which calls for its periodic review once every five years following the commencement of production.

Capitol Hill, Monrovia – The House of Representatives has placed the Bea Mountain Mining Corporation (BMMC) operating in Kinjor, Grand Cape Mount County under investigation in the wake of complaint filed by Representative Bob Sheriff of the County’s First Electoral District.

In a communication to the Plenary of the House of Representatives, Rep. Sheriff said the company was in constant violation of the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) it signed with the Government to extract Gold from the County.

According to him, the company was hiring foreigners to occupy positions such as unskilled labor – that were kept for only Liberians. This contravenes session 13.1(a) of the MDA, which states that, “The Company shall not hire individuals who are not citizens of Liberia for unskilled labor positions.”

He also said the company was also in breach of section 36.1 of the MDA which calls for its periodic review once every five years following the commencement of production.

Section 36.1: “The Parties agreed that this Agreement shall be subject to periodic review once every five years after the commencement of production for the purpose of good faith discussions to effect such modifications to the agreement as may be necessary or desirable in the light of any substantial changes in the circumstances which may have occurred during the previous five years.”

Rep. Sherriff said it has been almost eight years since the company began operation under the current MDA and no review has been conducted.

“This act of noncompliance to the supra mentioned sections within the MDA by BMMC and many others not mentioned herein is in gross violation of said document against the interest of our people,” he said.

He continued: “I therefore write requesting that plenary cite the BMMC to provide reasons for the nonstop violations of the MDA, and that said document be reviewed, so as the restore those rights and privileges accorded our citizens by provisions with the MDA.”

Following an exhaustive debate, the plenary voted in favor of a motion filed by Rep. Rosanna G.D.H. Shaack of Rivercess County; citing the management of the company along with several Government’s ministries and agencies to appear it on Tuesday, February 1, 2022.

They include the Ministries of Mines & Energy and Labor; the National Investment Commission NIC), Bureau of Concessions, Liberia Immigration Services (LIS), Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Liberia National Police (LNP).

The investigation, as mandated by plenary, also include a fact-finding site visit to the company’s operation area in Grand Cape Mount County by the House’s Special Concession Review Committee headed by Rep. Clarence Massaquoi of Lofa County.

During the debate, several lawmakers, in separate remarks, accused the company of violating several portions of the MDA ranging from tax-evasion to unlawful mining activities leading to continued environmental degradation.

Rep. Dixon W. Sebo (District #16, Montserrado County) said he has documentary evidence that the company was exporting minerals out of Liberian valued over US$1 billion without paying any tax to the Liberian Government.  He disclosed that in the coming days, he will leak the documents to plenary for action.

Meanwhile, the House’s investigation of the company’s operation also comes in the wake of a fresh mass citizens’ protest that brought the company’s operations to a standstill.

The residents accused the company of forfeiting its corporate responsibilities. They went on the rampage, requesting the company to implement a 14-count resolution comprising several demands made to the company including a 2% exploration benefit. Their action led to the use of excessive force by the LNP against them, leaving several people injured.  

But speaking on the House’s floor, Rep. Emerson V. Kamara noted that the people of Grand Cape Mounty County are peaceful, but blamed the violence to the company’s continued violation of their rights. 

He also blamed the Police Inspector General, Patrick Sudue of ignoring the advice of the County’s Legislative Caucus not to order the police to use force against the protesters in a bid to find an amicable solution.

The operations of BMCC in Liberia can be traced back to 2001 when the company signed the first MDA with the Liberian Government headed by then President Charles Ghankay Taylor to mine Diamond and Gold. Twelve years later in 2013, the company and the Government, this time under ex-president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signed the Restated and Amended MDA that is currently in force.