Bea Mountain Pays $450K to Affected GCMC Clans -Remaining $1.5M to be paid in Yearly Installments; But…

For a long while now, citizens of Grand Cape Mount County (GCMC) have been agitating against Liberia’s biggest gold exploration and mining concession in demand for their social benefits outlined in the Bea Mountain Mineral Development Agreement (MDA), and the direct 2% yearly payments from the company’s exploration budget. After much hauling and pulling, Bea Mountain, on May 7, 2022 presented the citizens of Lah, Mana and Darblo Clans checks of $150,000 each, accordingly representing portion of the 2% exploration expenditure that authorities have informed this paper amounts to US$2million in total. But amidst the glee and celebration that reportedly occasioned the check-granting ceremony in Gola Konneh’s district headquarter of Tahn, some aggrieved citizens are crying foul about the US$450,000 payment.

According to Grand Cape Mount County Superintendent Aaron Vincent who spoke exclusively with The Analyst, the US$450,000 payment was made on May 7, 2022 in Tahn, in the presence of Labor Minister Cllr. Charles H. Gibson, Internal Affairs Minister Varney A. Sirleaf, Senator Simeon Freeman, Cllr. Benedict Sannoh, government officials, chiefs and elders of the three affected clans, as well as ordinary citizens of the county.

“This is what was explained to us: Bea Mountain could not pay the $2 million at once, so they paid the $450K, and will pay $450 each year on May7 until the $2 million is exhausted. Each of the clans in the Bea concession areas received $450,000. Dablo Clan where the company is operating the Kinjor mines, Mana Clan where they are operating the N’dablama site, and Lah Clan where the Matambo site is located are those communities that benefited,” Superintendent Vincent stated categorically.

He further disclosed that the $450,000 payment is exclusive of the $200,000 yearly payment that the three clans will receive during the lifetime of the Bea Mountain MDA.

“This payment is not for social development. By August 2022, Bea Mountain will pay $200,000 in line with the Bea Mountain MDA,” Superintendent Vincent averred, cautioning against “some citizens who sit in Monrovia without attending county meetings but always castigate on development issues”.

 When quizzed about how the company and the mediation committee derived at the US$2 Million as payment against the 2% exploration expenditure, Superintendent Vincent stated that the “Government people said they never had document to show how Bea Mountain derived at the $2m payment as exploration expenses”.

Citizens’ Angst

Against the backdrop of the Bea Mountain payment, some citizens of Grand Cape Mount County have started to vent their resentment over the entire process.

Manja Varney Kromah is head of the Green Revolution of Liberia (GROL), and he’s hopping mad over the payment which he termed as coercion of the people of his county.

In a social media post recently, Mr. Kromah said, during the Inter-Ministerial Committee Investigation, the Minister of Mines and Energy Gesler Murray informed the panel of investigators that his Ministry could not locate copies of the Bea Mountain Exploitation budget which as per the MDA should had been submitted to his Ministry so that the affected communities could benefit from the 2% as agreed on in the MDA.

“However, the same Inter Ministerial Committee has now coordinated the coercion of the people to accept USD 450,000.00 as the 2% of the Exploration budget which is far below the actual amount. Unfortunately for this criminal syndicate, we have in our possession a Bea Mountain document under the caption “New Liberty Operation Plan 2015”, which clearly states that Bea Mountain used One Hundred Million USD from 2009 to 2013, the same period of her exploration. This revelation shows that the rightful benefits for the affected communities over the period of four years should be Two Million United States dollars instead of USD450,000.

“We take this broad day criminality as an affront to the people of Grand Cape Mount County, and, therefore, urge the management of Bea Mountain Company and her criminal collaborators to do the rightful thing by paying what belongs to our people instead of giving them chicken change,” Kromah vented.

He furthered that Bea Mountain has been operating in the Western part of the country precisely Grand Cape Mount County since 2009 with nothing as benefits to our people and country at large.

 “They have exploited Billions of Dollars’ worth of minerals from this country with no tangible social corporate responsibility impact to show as benefits to the people of Grand Cape Mount County or the country at large. As we speak, the County where they operating from has gone without medications for two over years now. They are not living up to the social corporate responsibility as the government only referral hospital in Robertsport and the health center in Sinje are practically closing down because assigned nurses and medical practitioners are short of the needed logistics.

“It will surprise you to know that up to present, the company has not been able to construct a befitting health center to cater to the health needs of our people who are working with the company. Our people are dying every day from minor sickness like malaria and typhoid while the company continue to exploit our minerals resources without any spread effect to our people.

“All of the public schools operating in the county are without qualified teachers due to the harsh working condition the teachers who were assigned by the Ministry of Education were experiencing. As a result, they have abandoned the assignment and returned to their respective homes in Monrovia and parts adjacent.

 “Additionally, the district in which this company is situated, Gola Konneh, is without any health center. Sick people are transported by motorbike for hours before reaching anywhere close to a health center, which usually lacks drugs. There is no good road in the district where this mafia company continues to extract millions worth of mineral resources.

“Hence, we are calling on our local and bilateral partners, the US Government to come to our aid as the Weah-led government is showing no sign of interest in addressing the plight of our people as there continues to be broad day evidences of senior Government officials being involved in all multiple forms of criminality,” Kromah averred frustratingly. 

MOU Amended?

Interestingly, the GROL boss further contradicted what Superintendent Aaron Vincent had earlier informed this paper, that Bea Mountain had committed itself to paying the three clans US$2 million in yearly stipulations.

Quoting an alleged portion of the amended MOU, Varney Kromah stated: “The parties maturely agreed and acknowledged that the condition precedent set for under Section 7 and limit of BMCC obligation herein the above are material consideration upon which BMCC and the client rely on.

“Matured warranty, the company hereby relinquish and waive any claim of payment of 2% of the BMCC operations budget to their communities that they had or might have had, and that both parties hereby forever release each other’s for any claim or counter claims or defense that each might had against each other in regards of payment of 2% payment. So by agreeing to receive the USD150,000 each, you will not turn around again to say you need your 2%. This Memorandum of Understanding represents the total understanding between the parties that they had not been induced by duress, fraud and misrepresentation.

That this agreement represent the total understanding,” Kromah reportedly quoted portion of the amended MOU which paved the way for the $450,000 payment to the three clans.

When contacted to comment on Varney Kromah’s allegations and to provide insight about the much-touted Memorandum of Understanding, Cllr. Charles Gibson failed to provide clarity on the whole saga, especially the request for copy of the MOU.

“You need a copy of the MOU because it speaks for itself,” was his cryptic response, having promised to send a copy today Monday.

Grand Cape Mount County Senator Simeon Boima Taylor, for his part, did not answer the numerous calls this paper made for him to provide clarity on the Bea Mountain payment and what some aggrieved citizens of the county are saying. 

Investigations continue!

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