Lands & Mines Rebut Reports of Concession Agreement

The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted May 7, 2004

Lands, Mines & Energy Minister Jonathan Mason has clarified that the Government of Liberia has not entered into any concession agreement with any company in recent times as was insinuated in a media report.

Chatting with journalists yesterday in his office, Minister Mason said the government granted what he called, “Mineral Reconnaissance Licence” to a company, “Diamond Fields International Ltd.” to conduct a geological survey. He said it does not in any way, give the company the right to explore any mineral resources.

In fact, the Energy Minister said if at all, his Ministry alone cannot grant such concession agreement to any company. He added that the type of licence issued to Diamond Fields International does not give it any exclusive rights to any “mineral deposit” in Liberia.

However, he said Liberians will benefit from the project because it will provide scientific and geological information useful for the country.

Mr. Mason said the only advantage to the company is that it is entitled to the right of “first refusal” if it decides to negotiate and engage in mining activities, stressing “for now, it does not have any mining right.” “The story about concession agreement is not true. I defy those who said this to prove it,” he said as rebuttal to the news story.

About the sanctions on Liberia, Minister Mason said his ministry was doing a “lot of things” to have the sanctions lifted on Liberia. Besides, he said it behooves all Liberians to do everything for the lifting of the sanction because such could benefit Liberians. He said the lifting of the sanctions would provide employment, income for some Liberians and also boost trade and commerce in mining areas.

He said the Lands & Mines Ministry has also worked out a national policy, which among other things, seeks to ensure that certain percentage of revenue from mining operations would be reverted to the respective community for development purposes.

As regards deposits of oil in Liberia, the learned minister said, it is only a “rumor.” But was quick to say that the country “has good potentials”. But until the nation starts drilling, he cannot say there is oil.

Meanwhile, Minister Mason, a media-friendly person, has called on the press to always contact the ministry on issues relative to the function of the entity.

© 2004: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.