Morris T. Koffa, Sr., Ph.D.

Protect The Environment and The Mining Industry in Liberia

Posted July 7, 2022

By Morris T. Koffa, Sr., Ph.D.

The recent environmental incident of alleged toxic chemical waste in the Mafa River in Grand Cape County that showed dead fishes and dogs as a result of Bea Mountain’s mining operations is again another reminder that the mining industry and other companies are dumping into Liberia’s tributaries and the Atlantic Ocean.

According to (KMTV, 2022) other images have authenticated the incident as widespread in 10 communities in proximity to the Mafa River impacted by the chemical poison that seriously threatens the quality of drinking water, commercial fishery, and recreation. This is worrisome for the well-being of the residents many of whom have no access to routine medical checkups.

The most frequent toxic chemicals used in the mining industry are Cyanide, which is a poisonous toxic chemical that causes abnormal heart rate, seizures, shortness of breath, and cardiac arrest. Arsenic is a causative agent for skin and lung cancer and possible death, and Mercury is a poisoning agent that causes kidney damage, tremors, impaired sensation, and many more.

There are several giant concessional mining companies with class “C” licenses and investments of about $500,000 and more that operate in different parts of Liberia, according to the standards set by Liberia’s Lands Mines and Energy Ministry. This criterion of licensure uses heavy-duty earth-moving machinery for operation subject to the government’s monitoring and policing entities, but not the Artisanal mining industry.

There are countless Artisanal or Small-Scale Miners (ASM) that are widespread in the country with no regulatory protocols from the government. This illegal practice not only destroys the environment but affects the health of those that are directly and indirectly involved in the mining business.

Unfortunately, the Liberian government does not punish the perpetrators. However, these mining companies use almost the same toxic chemicals (cyanide, arsenic, and mercury) to refine their products that have a direct impact on every facet of the environment (water, air, and soil), if not properly controlled.

History reminds us of the many instances of contamination of water bodies from the mining industry and other companies. There is less attention given to full decontamination protocols and processes (pre and post) of the tributaries to determine the level of toxicity both in the water bodies and residents to ensure that pollutants level is determined and remediated. Residents must be monitored for any adverse health impact since these chemicals don’t exhibit immediate symptoms or impact until after months or years.

In recent years there have been frequent toxic chemical spillages in water bodies in Liberia. According to the National Bureau of Concession (NBC), in 2017, MNG Gold Mining Ltd spilled toxic waste in the communities of Bong County. On February 23, 2022, there was a spillage of ammonium nitrate in the community of Sinje, Grand Cape Mount County, and the oil spilled in the Montserrado River from the Liberian Oil Refinery and many others, which exposed the level threats to Liberia’s water bodies and the communities thereof. There are no indications of any decontamination processes that ensure the removal of any contaminants.

Liberian citizens are reminded of the past when entities like the Liberian & American Mining Company (LAMCO), Bong Mining Company (BMC), Firestone Rubber Company, and many others contaminated rivers with no recourse.

The takeaway from this article is that there is an inherent threat that the government should not take lightly because it is exposing these communities to health risks.

It has become an institutional problem and if nothing is done by the national government to ensure the entities involved abide by the environmental laws and take responsibility for protecting the human and physical environments, Liberia will face peril. Protecting the environment is a right and not a privilege as enshrined in the 1986 Constitution of Liberia. The right to seek redress for affected residents or communities should be encouraged since it borders “Environmental Justice”

The recent lawsuit by the group “Africa Young Peer Review Committee” (AYPRC) for $10 million against Bea Mountain Mining Company (BMMC), on behalf of the communities affected in Grand Cape Mount County, is a good beginning of seeking justice for the aggrieved.

Africa Environmental Watch applauds such an initiative to seek environmental justice for the voiceless and helpless in our communities.

About the Author:

Morris T. Koffa, Ph.D. is Executive Director of Africa Environmental Watch. He can be reached at or  


Phone (770) 896.5873
Lawrenceville, Georgia, USA