Bong County Flag
Disagreement Stalls Mining Firm’s Operations In Bong
By Ballah Kollie, LINA Bong County Correspondent
SANOYEA, March 30, (LINA) - Disagreement between citizens of Sanoyea District in Bong County and the management of Winestock Development Liberia Incorporated, a mining company engaged in exploration for iron ore in the district, is said to be impeding the company’s operations.
The citizens, in a four-count resolution read by their spokesman Morris S. Kweyete, are demanding the construction of roads with concrete bridges, employment of citizens with a minimum wage of US$5 or its Liberian dollar equivalent per day, construction of schools and provision of safe drinking water, if the company must continue its exploration for iron ore in the area.
Addressing a mass meeting of citizens held recently in the Sanoyea Town Hall, Bong County following a complaint by the management of Winestock Development Liberia Incorporated, Superintendent Selena Polson-Mappy told citizens of the district that while she was prepared to fully protect their interests, they also needed to conduct themselves in accordance with the law.
Quoting Section 9.3b of the Mineral Agreement Law of Liberia, she warned the citizens to be mindful of how they proceed in engaging companies that are duly licensed to conduct exploration in any part of the county.
“During this time of exploration, all that this company owes us is our 2 percent. When it shall have found what it is looking for, that is when we will have the right to make the kinds of demands that we are now making,” stressed Madam Polson-Mappy.
Section 9.3b of the Mineral Agreement Law of Liberia provides that “A Licensee must expend each year during the license term an amount equal to at least 2 percent of its approved budget for such year on the construction, maintenance or rehabilitation of schools or clinics within its license area or licensee must consult with local officials and traditional leaders as to the facilities that will benefit from this expenditure but will retain control over all expenditures.”
The company’s management in its complaint said the citizens are demanding that the company needed to do certain things before it can be allowed to continue operation.
In remarks, the Chief Executive Officer of Winestock Development Liberia Inc. Mr. Yosi Cohen promised to fulfill the terms and conditions of the exploration license, but called on citizens to exercise restraints, noting, “you stand to benefit millions but you must not expect too much too soon as we are far away from finding what we are looking for.”
For his part, the Commissioner of Sanoyea District, Mr. Cantos K. Bornor, thanked Superintendent Polson-Mappy for the interest she demonstrated in her people, saying the clarity provided by her is timely and will pave the way for the company to continue its operations.
Since 2011, Winestock Development Liberia Inc, has been exploring for iron ore in Sanoyea.
Under the Mineral Development Agreement signed with the Liberian Government, the company is expected to expend 2 percent of its annual exploration budget of US$1,988,000 to affected communities in the district.