Freedom Gold's Secret Operations
(An Investigative Briefing)
July 19, 2000
Freedom Gold is an alluvial gold mining company working in southeast Liberia. This briefing summarizes the scattered information collected to date. Stories about Freedom Gold first circulated during the 1998 - '99 dry season when US televangelist and politician Pat Robertson was reported to be investing $15 million in it. Freedom Gold acquired a concession to mine gold (and possibly other minerals?) in 90-km2 concession (9000 hectares) in Sinoe County, in or near the newly created county in southeast Liberia. The concession was seized, apparently illegally, from its previous owner who was not actively using it. The area is extremely remote. No roads led to it as late April 2000 and all transportation has been by helicopter from Robertsfield International Airport, or by a two-day walk through the forest from the nearest road.
During the 1999-2000 dry season, serious investment appears to have begun. A camp "as large as a city" according to locals has been established in the area, and the company began to build a road to it in April. Trial trenches were dug in early 2000 to test the concentration of gold in various areas.
No information was found on what type of extraction process will be used, namely arsenic, mercury or something less potentially dangerous. The eventual scale of operations is likely to determine which gold extraction method is used. No information has surfaced about an environmental impact assessment, either of the mining operations themselves or of the effects of building a road and establishing "a city" in a previously sparsely populated area with intact forest cover.
While most if not all of the operating capital is financed by Pat Robertson, Cletus Wotorson, a geologist and presidential candidate in the 1997 elections is a partner with Robertson in Freedom Gold. Wotorson appears to be responsible for many local technical aspects of the operation.
From all appearances, Freedom Gold is preying on a situation where the government is desperate for any investment, where officials may be brought to size and reissue concession, and where citizens are desperate for any sort of job possible, even if all this brings with it lasting political damage, economic distortions and environmental damage.
This report is far from complete. Because the investigation into Freedom Gold's activities is ongoing and as more information is gathered, this paper will continue to report on developments.
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