Liberia: UNDP, Partners Organize Training of Trainers Workshop for Artisanal and Small-scale Miners on Use of Newly Developed ASM Handbook

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Buchanan, Grand Bassa County – After several consultations and meetings with miners in several mining communities around Liberia with the  sole aim of promoting sustainablemining within the artisanal and small scale mining sector (ASM), the Ministry of Mines and Energy in consultation with the Environmental protection Agency (EPA) and the Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia (SCNL) along with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Wednesday, December 22, began a two-day training of trainers workshop for miners on the proper use of a newly developed handbook for ASM.

The handbook which was collectively crafted by key actors,  including miners themselves, seeks to guide miners within the ASM sector at the same time serving as an eye opener enriched with guidelines on the processes and procedures on how to mine sustainably, as well as how to acquire mining license. The handbook also provides guidance on how to ensure health and safety, human rights and gender safeguards in mining areas.

The training of trainers workshop is being supported by the UNDP and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency through the Environmental Governance Programme.

According to statistics, the  ASM sector provides jobs for more than 100,000 people mostly in rural communities that are involved with Gold and diamond mining. Over the years the sector has been challenged greatly leading to environmental degradation, mining accidents and other issues affecting mining communities.

In his foreword to the handbook, the Minister of Mines and Energy, Hon. Gesler E. Murray explained that the ministry along with its partners hopes to improve the  ASM sector by enhancing government control over the sector enabling the wellbeing of ASM, the environment and making sure that the rights of all miners especially women and children are secured.

“We also want to make sure that special areas can be set aside for artisanal mining and make sure that artisanal miners are properly licensed,” explained Minister Murray.

Representing the Environmental Protection Agency at the workshop , EPA Compliance and Enforcement Manager, John Jallah stressed that the situation with ASM has been a major issue of concern in Liberia.

“Looking back in time, there was a declaration made by the Ministry of Mines and Energy as it relates to ASM activities in the southeast…some form of stay order was placed on them because of bad mining practices,” stressed Jallah.

Jallah however called on participants to continue to promote sustainable mining in their various communities so as to minimize harmful mining activities.

“All we are here for today is to be able to send out the message and share ideas and information needed to help curtail the issue of illicit mining,” urged Jallah who hoped that participants will be fully armed with the training resources to enable them to train others properly.

Making remarks, the secretary-general of the Federation of Miners Association of Liberia (FOMAL), Abraham B. Gappie stated that FOMAL welcomes and accepts the ASM handbook which was developed by the Ministry of Mines and its partners, including FOMAL, because it will be the first official guide for miners in the sector.

“This  will be our first time to see this in our country, so we urge all actors including miners and  enforcers from the government standpoint to take note,” stated Gappie.

Also speaking, the Executive Director of SCNL, Michael Garbo stated his excitement that key actors working within the ASM sector can come together to discuss best practices on how to protect the environment and the forest corridor.

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