Kokoyah District, Bong County – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has concluded a one-day stakeholders’ dialogue with citizens of affected communities in Kokoyah Statutory District, where the Turkish mining company MNG is currently carrying on underground mining.
The dialogue was concentrated on the ongoing underground mining exploration being done by the company and the permit granted the company by the government of Liberia to carry on underground mining.
EPA’s manager of Compliance & Enforcement, John Jallah, said the dialogue was meant to explain to citizens the processes involving the underground mining by the company in the area.
Jallah said that dialogue was also geared towards obliterating the fears that underground mining would cause nearby towns and villages to sink in. “The main reason we are here for is to erase the fear that due to the underground mining, nearby towns and villages will sink in; it is not possible because the rocks under there are strong and we understand the process,” he said.
Jallah said the management of MNG Gold Liberia submitted a revised version of the approved 2015 Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for the Kokoyah Gold Project, which gives the company the right to carry on an underground mining.
Jallah said the document was reviewed internally by the EPA’s ESIA Technical Review Committee in consultation with relevant ministries, agencies and commissioners, as part of the fulfillment of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment process. “The revised document seeks an Environmental Permit for the operations of an underground gold mining in the existing open pit through its independent environmental consultant, Petra Resource, Inc,” he said.
He added it was important for Liberia to have two industrial gold mines, citing the one in Sayweh Town, Boinsen District, Bong County that is being operated by Turkish Mining Company MNG Liberia and the Bea Mountain in Grand Cape Mount County. “But as a country, it is very much important for us to see that we have now as we speak two industrial gold mines” Jallah said.
Presenting the roadmap for the underground mining, a senior Liberian staff at MNG, Eugine Kollie, said the underground mining would be done vertically, which means the holes would be dug downward and not horizontal towards any other towns or villages. Kollie assured citizens of affected communities that the company would adhere to the required safety measures during the process.
While lauding the EPA and the company for convening the meeting, the citizens raised concerns about their benefits should there be any social or environmental impact as the result of the underground mining activities.
The dialogue stemmed from a recent communication from Bong County Electoral District #1 Representative, Albert Hills, Jr to the Ministry of Mines and Energy, requesting the government to move in the community and provide detailed information about the underground mining permit given the company.
Speaking at the occasion, Representative Hills called for a mutual understanding between the citizens and the company, if the citizens should get their just benefit and if the company’s properties should be protected. “If we are to succeed, we are to work together,” Hills said