Ministry of Mines and Energy, Partners Hold Workshop for Artisanal and Small Scale Miners in Liberia
Kakata, Margibi County – The Ministry of Mines and Energy in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Monday organized a one-day stakeholders workshop with the aim of developing a user-friendly handbook for both artisanal and small scale miners.
After the 14-year civil conflict, there has been limited investments across the country thus constraining income and livelihoods of many within the population, especially war affected youths in rural areas and economically deprived young people in urban settlements who have been pressured to migrate in rural areas in search of income and livelihood.
The artisanal mining sector (ASM) of Liberia has, however, attracted both local and foreign miners owing to the limited barriers to enter in the sector, including limited expertise, among others.
According to a 2012 report of the World Bank, the sector is said to be a major source of livelihood for more than 100,000 gold and diamond miners in Liberia who depend on the sector for income. Notwithstanding, the sector for the most part has been under-regulated thus undermining its huge potential to support social economic growth and livelihood of rural communities with little or no access to basic services and income generating activities.
Key challenges facing small-scale miners include limited knowledge about environmental and human rights protection laws; complex and often convoluted supply chains which often make the local miners susceptible to exploitation; limited knowledge among miners about the value and pricing of gold and diamonds and the
existing regulations to ensure that commodities are produced and exported legally
Making remarks, the Assistant Minister for Planning, Research and Development at the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Johnson S. Willabo, Jr. stated that developing a Liberian user friendly ASM handbook will ensure that communities, who are the direct recipients of the negative environmental and social impacts of ASM activities, have the capacity to participate in the governance of the sector, including monitoring.
“Development of the handbook and follow-up training and awareness will enhance participatory monitoring of the ASM sector. The overall objectives of this initiative are to support the development of a simple English (user-friendly) training handbook for artisanal miners and mining host communities to provide them with much needed skills and knowledge,” stated Min. Willabo.
Liberia’s new Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development sets a bold vision towards improving mining governance and enforcing regulations on artisanal and small-scale mining operations across the country. This will require developing the skills and capacities of small-scale miners and host communities so that they become knowledgeable of the enforceable regulations in place and the different roles of the regulatory agencies.
Representing the UNDP, the Program Manager, E. Abraham T. Tumbey, Jr. called on all miners present at the event to join the partners in making the mining sector a vibrant one which will contribute greatly to the sustainable economic growth of the country.
“The sector has the potential to contribute significantly to revenue generation of the country while at the same time ensuring the protection of the environment and also taking into consideration the issue of gender and human rights,” Tumbey admonished.
For his part, the Chief Technical Advisor of the EPA, Prof. Benjamin Karmorh affirmed that the workshop is happening at a time where the issue of illicit mining being characterized with human disaster has claimed the attention of national government.
“The EPA or the government is not there to tell you do not mine, the EPA along with all government agencies responsible for mining activities work together to ensure that whatever you do within the environment will not compromise your health,” Prof. Karmorh stressed.
This initiative is being supported by the United Nations Development Programme in partnership with Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) under the Environmental Governance Program EGP
Participants of the workshop included representatives of mining host communities and artisanal miners, civil society and non-governmental organizations, and government agencies including the Ministry of Mines & Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Finance Development Planning, Liberia Institute of Statistics & Geo-information Services and Forestry Development Authority.