News24

Liberia alarmed at illegal mining

2011-12-23 22:02

Monrovia - The Liberian government is alarmed at the wave of illegal mining spreading across the country, less than three weeks after it received an award for the best mining country of the year.

Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy Roosevelt Jayjay told a news conference in Monrovia this week that illicit mining is an increasing problem for the government of the nation still struggling economically after years of conflict.

He blamed the situation on weak enforcement policy, the lack of security and foreigners, whom he accused of sneaking across Liberia's borders to dig for gold, diamonds and other mineral resources.

"Illegal mining is a very big problem for us as a country. Some of the problems point to the Lands, Mines and Energy Ministry but in totality, it is an inter-governmental problem," Jayjay said.

But, despite expressing alarm at the situation, he could not say how much Liberia was losing in terms of monetary value as a result.

In September this year, Liberia commenced shipping iron ore on behalf of the Mittal Steel giant, for the first time in more than 20 years.

Mining in Liberia slumped when the West African nation degenerated into a full-scale civil war which killed a quarter of the population and displaced hundreds of thousands more.

The industry accounted for about 60% of Liberia's gross domestic product prior to the outbreak of war in December 1989.

Since the end of hostilities in 2003, it has attracted more than $17bn in direct capital investment with significant amounts going to the mining sector as well as the gas and oil industry.