Liberia: Family in Gbarpolu Accuses Chinese Mining Company of Doing Illegal Mining on their Licensed Area
Weasua, Gbarpolu – There seems to be brewing tension over land encroachment between the John P. Saah Family in Gbarpolu County and a Chinese Company, “Sheng Xin De Yuan Mining Company INC,” involved in gold mining in Gbarbeye Town, Weasua.
In several complaint letters filed to Mr. Gessler Murray, Minister of Mines and Energy, the Saah family accused Mr. Zhang De Min, who is also commonly known in the area as “Mr. Parker,” a holder of a ‘Class B mining License No. MBL 2924/17’ of overlapping their area of operations and allegedly trying to enter into the parcel of 400 acres of land own by their family.
The family also claimed that Parker is being backed by Mr. Samuel Wilson, the Director of Mines and other individuals at the Ministry of Mines and Energy. They alleged that the license that the Parker is operating belong to Wilson but the accused has denied their claim stating that he does not issue mining license.
Wilson, in a telephone interview with this newspaper, dismissed claims made by Saah said that he holds a Class ‘C’ license.
Notwithstanding Wilson’ disclaimer, this paper has in its possession a scan copy of Class-C mining Licenses dated February 17, 2016 to February 17, 2017; March 29, 2017 to March 29, 2018; May 2, 2018 to May 2, 2019 issued to Sumo Landyes who is the deceased elder brother of Saah.
“As a result of this illegal act, according to Saah in his complaint, Mr. Parker is violating the mining law of 2000 and the rights of ordinary Liberian Citizens. Additionally, the director of mines instructed the mining agent assigned in the area to illegally remove all our properties from our Class-C License and title Deed area and authorized Mr. Parker to encroach to work in the designated area even though an investigation of a formal complaint ongoing.”
In their further explanation, the Saah family referenced a complaint of overlapping within their operational area and the refusal to renew their license is dated April 5, 2019; with a follow-up communication sent of April 24, 2019.
“Our application for prospecting License and Application for Class –B mining license was dated on April 30, 2019, with another letter requesting an investigation was dated May 2, 2019; July 23, 2019;August 20, 2019 and September 17, 2019. The illegal closure of our mining site by the Director of mines without any regard to our rights as the Class B License holder where the overlapping is taking place by Mr. Parker with the full knowledge and backing of the Director of mines. Because the director of Mines request the Saah family to operate with the overlap Class-B, after two days of refusal for the family, the director of mines drive to the Bush and refuse any of the family member to go with him to the mining site, when he return he verbally order the family stop operate without any official notice or any reason. ”
The Saah family claimed that they have paid taxes into government coffers since 2016 to present for the said Class-C License. The Director of mines had previously termed the area risky for shovel mining but to the surprise of the family and inhabitants of the town Mr. Parker a overlap license-B holder is doing mining in the same area with the used of shovel by the protection of Director of Mines, Mr. Samuel Wilson.
“Our family made several request to the Ministry of mines to upgrade our Class-C Mining License to Class-B license and willing to pay 10,000USD to support our (Poor Poor Agenda), but they have keep silence. We were the first to open and occupy Kissi Camp and have a titled Deed for 400 acres since 1974 for that Particular area in compliance with the mining act of 2000 to have a Class-C License.
“The Ministry is yet to respond to a request from the Family to investigate the Class B License MBL 2924/17 issued in March 2017 which overlapped their class C license that was issues February 2016.and why the director of Mines send the Overlapped Class-B License holder to work when an investigation is ongoing”