Liberia: House Hammers BMMC Over MDA Violations

The House of Representatives has endorsed a 10-count recommendation of the Specialized Committee regarding massive violations of the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) by Bea Mountain Mining Company (BMMC).

The House, during its Tuesday, April 3, session voted to endorse the recommendations of the Specialized Committee on BMMC itemizing massive violations of the agreement.

The investigation revealed violations affecting labor, environment, health, and workers’ safety in Grand Cape Mount County.

Following a three-week intensive investigation of the circumstances that led to the chaotic protest that erupted in Kinjor, Grand Cape Mount County, the House’s Committee said “BMMC knowingly violated the MDA affecting labor, environment, health and workers’ safety, respectively.”

“Contingent on this comprehensive report which seeks to provide checks and balances within the mining sector of Liberia and ensure total adherence to the laws of Liberia, the Committee, as specified hereunder, provides findings of the incidence that occurred in Grand Cape Mount County and concludes with the following cogent recommendations,” the Specialized Committee said.

Among the recommendations endorsed by the House, actions include instructing Liberia National Police (LNP) to identify and hand over to the Ministry of Justice officers responsible for the fatal shooting of protestors for swift arrest and prosecution. “This is intended to demonstrate the government’s commitment to upholding justice and the rule and law,” the committee said.

Members of the House of Representatives also voted that the Country Manager, Debar Allen, of BMMC be made to resign with immediate effect or transfer to another equivalent position.

“This aims to foster an environment of accountability and to restore confidence among dwellers within the local communities,” the Specialized Committee said.

Other recommendations entail enforcing employment records and audits, transferring foreign workers performing jobs reserved for Liberians, imposing fines for violations, procuring ambulances, upgrading health facilities, providing medical supplies, addressing scholarship defaults, invoking default remedies, and reviewing the MDA with the 55th Legislature.

“That BMMC enlists all qualified longtime contractors as employees and submits, within one week, employment records of all top Liberian employees occupying 50% of jobs reserved for Liberians,” the committee said in its report.

The committee also called on the Ministry of Labor to conduct an employee audit of BMMC, inspect the works and residential permits of all foreign workers within two weeks, and submit a copy of its findings to the Ad-hoc Committee.

“We also call on BMMC to immediately dismiss and or transfer foreigners performing jobs reserved for Liberians and that a discretionary fine be imposed on the company MoL, as a penalty for violating the MDA and that BMMC immediately procures two ambulances to reduce the health challenges,” the investigative team said. “We want the company to upgrade the Kinjor clinic to a modern health facility and provide medical supplies, including drugs and health equipment; that a discretionary fine be imposed on BMMC by GOL, as a penalty for violating this section of the MDA.”

The committee called on BMMC to make retroactive payments through a payment plan to the county for all international scholarships. It has defaulted for the last 10 years, commencing May to July 2014.

The company, according to reports, is in default of the MDA as amended, more specifically Section 28.2 (d) and 28.2 (e), and that the government, the committee recommended, should immediately invoke the default remedies of the MDA as a basis for curing the defaults and renegotiating with the terms and conditions herein and that the BMMC reviewed immediately by the 55th Legislature to meet prevailing days reality.

Members of the House noted that these measures aim to address the violations and ensure compliance with the MDA to uphold justice, accountability, and community well-being in the mining sector.

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