Home Economy Sand Mining Report Under Scrutiny …As NGO Backs Chinese Mining Firm Against Claims By Residents

Sand Mining Report Under Scrutiny …As NGO Backs Chinese Mining Firm Against Claims By Residents

by newsmanager

MONROVIA: In the thin air of quarry and sand mining activities, the indigenous people of mining communities in Liberia particularly in Margibi and Montserrado Counties, face a constant struggle.

They live in mud brick homes with roofs made of sheets and corrugated metal weighed down with rocks against the stiff winds.

And yet beneath their ancestral land, lies a modern-day Chinese company’s treasure: Sand.

For a commodity that appears to be available in infinite supply, sand may be considered a geopolitical objective.

But the resource is more vital, and its usable qualities seem more limited. Forged with sand and China’s demand has only skyrocketed as it pursues its ambition development plans.

Mining companies, have for years, been extracting millions of dollars’ worth of sand from coastal areas in Liberia, and now Chinese companies are flocking to Margibi and Montserrado Counties to hunt for the mineral known as “black sand.” But the impoverished citizens have seen little of their natural riches.

According to a Quarrying and Sand mining report issued by a local Non-Governmental Organization styled, “Integrity Watch,” reviewed by this Paper, in Margibi County, one company, identified as “Fengshou Quarry,” struck a sand mining deal with the local communities. The operation is expected to generate $2,630,192.73 a year.

Other sand mining companies in Montserrado County comprise six Chinese companies including Ever Bright sand mining beach, Grass Field River Sand Mining Corporation, High Investment Inc, Leeche Investment Inc, Light Investment Inc, and Z &C Rock crusher.

All of the named companies are engaged in the extraction and processing of the sand resource that accumulates an annual revenue of US$15,285,751.41.

Integrity Watch, in its report, however, did not give detail of the contract and how the revenues being generated is being used to enhance the livelihood of the residents of the companies operating communities.

Interestingly, Integrity Watch, pointed out that the amount signifies a substantial economic footprint in the companies’ counties of operation.

However, a visit by a team of reporters found a striking contrast –as faraway companies are profiting from mineral riches while the local communities that own the land struggle to pay for healthcare, drinking water and materials for schools and other basic social services.

“These Chinese people are undermining this country. They are all over this place,” said a lady, who is also a resident of one of the affected communities. “They never came to help us,” she added.

Many communities are also worried that the sand mining activities which are responsible for flooding and adverse climatic conditions will multiply the existing problems in their communities.

“It is a joke,” said a senior researcher who preferred to be identified as Joshua for personal reasons.

Joshua questioned integrity and credibility of the report released by Integrity Watch Liberia on Quarry and Sand mining in Liberia, describing it as a joke.

“Mass of the black sand is being loaded from here for exportation,” added another affected resident.

Within the context of community engagement, the report reveals a prioritization of infrastructural development and jobs creation as the primary modes of interaction with local communities.

It said a significant number of respondents, constituting approximately 46% of those who affirmed community engagement, identified road construction as a key initiative undertaken by mining companies.

The emphasis, according to the Integrity Watch report, especially on infrastructure, road construction is indicative of a strategic approach aimed at not only facilitating operational efficiency for the companies but also contributing to the local development agenda by improving access and connectivity.

Indigenous people are left poor and it remains unclear how the money, as cited in the report, has helped to build schools for children of the affected communities.

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