MAC: Mines and Communities

Liberia: Gbanepea Gold Mine 'An Environmental Death Trap'

Published by MAC on 2019-02-16
Source: Daily Observer (Liberia) (2019-02-15)

Forty young men presumed dead

Around 40 youngsters are presumed to have been buried alive, as gold mine workings at a site in Liberia collapsed upon them earlier this month.

A domestic  Environmental Protection Agency inspector has demanded that the mine should immediately be closed.

Liberia: Gbanepea Gold Mine 'An Environmental Death Trap'

By Ishmael F. Menkor

Daily Observer (Liberia)

15 February 2019

The proliferation of artisanal mining in Liberia, especially in Nimba
County, with the huge presence of youngsters, is becoming alarming.

David Zubah, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inspector in Nimba
County, says the Gbanepea Gold Mine is an "environmental death trap," and
therefore, the government should order its immediate closure, though no
officials have visited the site since the disaster occurred few day ago.

He has recommended to authorities of the Ministry of Justice to deploy
armed police officers to the mining site to maintain law and order as a
means of avoiding further disaster.

Speaking shortly after he arrived at the gold mine on Wednesday, February
13, Zubah said there is an urgent need to close the mine without delay.

According to him, the mine has been exposed to many holes, which endangers
the lives of the young and inexperienced miners.

"The miners have dug so many holes that are likely to cause the death of
many of the miners if the mine remains open," Mr. Zubah said.

Since the February 9 incident that reported about 40 miners being trapped
under the debris, Zubah is the first local government official that have
visited the scene.

Artisanal miners, Nimba County

Up to press time last time last night, about five persons have remained
confirmed dead, and about 35 others still trapped (presumed dead) under
the rubble. There is no roster or record to know exactly how many persons
worked in the gold mine prior to the disaster, as the whereabouts of the
head miner remains unknown.

The area has previously witnessed series of disasters resulting in
multiple deaths, according to the head of the local district in charge of
monitoring the mine, Nuah Beah, a prominent resident said.

The proliferation of artisanal mining in Liberia, especially in Nimba
County, with the huge presence of youngsters, is becoming alarming.

The government is yet to regulate the mining process as well as the
extracted minerals, thus leaving the fate of the gems in the hands of the
miners.

 

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