Environmental advisory services for the Liberian Ministry of Lands, Mines & Energy

Project:
Environmental advisory services for the Liberian Ministry of Lands, Mines & Energy
Location:
West Africa
Advising on environmental sustainability to boost the positive impacts of the sector's development and mitigate risk where possible

The extractives industry in Liberia historically provided over 65% of exports and 25% of GDP, but after war broke out in 1990, almost the entire industry was shut down. Its re-establishment has been characterised by environmental problems, such as deforestation in a country where the rainforest covers 32.7% of land area, loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, pollution of waters due to dumping of oil residue and air pollution due to unregulated use of mercury in artisanal gold mining.

Our 2010-11 project, funded by the World Bank, aimed to increase capacity within the governmental organisation of Liberia to better manage the environmental problems associated with mineral sector contracts and moving extractive industries transactions towards their contractual close. We provided technical advice to the Liberian Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, the Inter-Ministerial Concessions Committee, Mineral Technical Committee, and the National Investment Committee. We prepared an action programme for the MLME and on-the-job training and capacity building for a team of local technicians in the MLME.

Additionally, we prepared a Mining Environmental Roadmap to outline environmental legislation and approaches in the Liberian mining industry, analysing the international agreements and best practices, the drafting of Environmental Regulations, and the preparation of the Environmental and Social Safeguards for downstream mining operations. Finally, we undertook workshops to inform stakeholders of the objectives and implementation of the project.

The project has successfully streamlined the running of the Ministry and improved its interaction with environmental issues, bolstering the department’s capacity to manage such issues independently, significantly increasing their detailed understanding of them. No mining operation is now permitted to set up without an environmental and social impact assessment, plans for redressing any environmental impact after the working life of the mine must be included in the proposal, and operations must be sustainably managed from the outset.

This will result in a clear and effective environmental policy to limit the environmental damage the mining industry leaves for the future whilst safeguarding the financial output of a key industry for Liberia’s economy, which will create over 100,000 jobs over the next 10 years.