- Senate Committee Chair describes mining sector
The Senate, acting as a “Committee of Whole,” has directed the Minister of Mines and Energy and the Commissioner General of the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) to develop a comprehensive action plan to combat the country’s expanding wave of illegal mining.
A hearing on Wednesday with the Ministers of Mines and Energy, Gesler E. Murray, and Internal Affairs, Varney Sirleaf, as well as the Commissioner General of the LIS, Robert Budy, sparked the Senate decision.
According to a Senate press release, the Committee of the Whole cited the appropriate authorities to examine and find a workable solution to the issue of illegal mining across the country, which has been highlighted by a number of Senators.
During the hearing, Grand Cape Mount County Senator Simeon B. Taylor, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Mines, Energy, and Natural Resources, stated that the Ministry of Mines and Energy and the Liberia Immigration Service have failed to fulfill their legal obligations, resulting in a “floodgate” for illegal mining, which he claims is primarily carried out by aliens.
Senator Taylor further pointed out that the LIS has legal authority to deal with illegal entry into the country by aliens and foreigners, particularly those engaged in mining activities without the government’s permission.
Senator Taylor claims that the LIS authorities are abdicating their responsibilities, resulting in widespread unlawful mining.
In regards to Mines and Energy, the Chairman of the Committee on Mines, Energy, and Natural Resources stated that the majority of the difficulties in the mining sector are directly related to a lack of regulatory and enforcement authority.
He also warned the Mines and Energy Ministry and the Liberia Immigration Service to strengthen their enforcement and guarantee that illegal miners are dealt with according to the law.
During their appearance, Gesler E. Murray, the Minister of Mines and Energy, acknowledged that illegal mining had increased across the country, but blamed a lack of staff and resources for enforcing and monitoring mining activities.
At the same time, the Mines and Energy Minister called for the issue of illegal mining to be regarded as a “National Emergency.”
Robert Budy, the Commissioner General of the LIS, also mentioned the paucity of officers to patrol the 176 impassable boundaries in his presentation.
Commissioner Budy stated that just 46 of the 176 border towns are accessible by LIS-managed roads.
Varney Sirleaf, Liberia’s Minister of Internal Affairs, has advocated for the deployment of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) to combat illegal mining.