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 GACH Company ordered to “immediately” cease sellin

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toubab1020 Posted - 12 Dec 2022 : 12:51:04


Dec 12, 2022, 9:43 AM | Article By: Momodou Jawo

As part of measures towards regulating mining activities in the country particularly around the coastal areas, the minister of Energy and Petroleum has with “immediate” effect ordered the Geological Department to stop the GACH Company from selling and mining white sand being extracted from the Gambia.

“I am surprised that the GACH Company is selling the white sand around Sanyang. I am directing the Geological Department to immediately stop him after this convergence. You write to him and stop him. You make sure that the white sand is not sold. That white sand is what is supposed to be used to replace the heavy metal composite which has been removed. So, if they sell it, how are they going to rehabilitate that place? We are going to make sure that things are monitored on a quarterly basis. It’s not going to be business as usual. I want to make that very clear,” Minister Abdoulie Jobe emphasised during a stakeholders’ meeting involving the mining companies, drivers, concerned communities among others.

“We also recognise that the MOU between the miners and the communities is not sustainable. Therefore, the new approach is going to change, and that’s the reason the Vice President directed that once we identify the new potential mining site, the government will now engage the communities directly and sensitise them and agree with them on how the land will be used and what will be their benefits,” he posited.

“The destruction caused by some mining companies is evidence for everybody to see. The mining company in Batokunku was issued a licence sometime in the early part of this year. However, within March to August, when our team went there, the amount of destruction in that place was enormous. We went there and showed the destruction caused by the mining companies.”

“In fact, the land where they were mining was forfeited to the state. However, they went and agreed with the community who doesn’t own the land legally. It was a land that was owned by the former President and which was forfeited to the state. They went and had an agreement with the communities on that particular land which is private land.”

“We recognise this problem and now it’s not going to be the mining company going and signing MOU with the communities. Therefore, government stakeholders will be involved in the entire process.”

Amadou Manneh, the site manager of GACH Company, admitted that they were selling the white sand. However, he was quick to add: “The Geological Department is aware of GACH Company selling the white sand. In fact, we were selling it to the Arezky Company which is currently constructing roads in the country,” he posited.

Momodou Sameiga Janneh of Sanyang village, said: “Right now, GACH is mining the black sand, but they are also selling the white sand that is meant for the rehabilitation of the soil. When you ask them, they would claim that it’s the Geological Department that gives them the licence to do so. Therefore, as far as tourism is concerned, the tourists are not going to use the beaches now. They will prefer to go to Senegal.”

Muhammed Sillah of Batakunku also added: “The Jinkong Company that was mining in the area was not following the MOU that the village and the company signed. In fact, that was the reason for the protest at the village. We will do everything possible to protect our environment, because people that are supposed to protect our environment are not doing so.”

“Jinkong Company robbed us and we will not allow that to happen again. There was a truck that we caught in the middle of the night doing illegal activities at the mining site. The truck was escorted to the police at Tujereng, but to our surprise, we saw the truck the following day. This issue must stop, because we are ready to protect our environment for our future children.”

Mustapha Kandeh of Batakunku village also accused Jinkong Company for disregarding the MOU that was signed between company and the communities with regard to the 10% that they were supposed to give to the village.

“The GACH Company is also selling the white sand of which they are supposed to use to construct the site when they are done with their mining activities. In fact, Jinkong was trying to operate in an area which was not part of the site identified for them according to their MOU,” he accused

Omar Touray, the president of the Gambia Transport Union, claimed that they have been receiving a series of complaints from their members regarding mining issues, saying: “There is lack of communication between government stakeholders. We don’t know who is responsible for constructing routes to mining sites. We also have a concern because we are paying duties to the Geological Department, and the Brikama Area Council is also asking for payment of loyalties.”
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toubab1020 Posted - 13 Dec 2022 : 13:16:02


Mining companies risk losing licenses amid “massive environmental destruction’

Dec 13, 2022, 10:08 AM | Article By: Momodou Jawo

The minister of Energy and Petroleum, Abdoulie Jobe, has warned that some mining companies in the country would not have their licenses renewed owing to massive environmental destruction currently happening within some mining sites, especially in the country’s coastal area.

Speaking during a recent stakeholder’s meeting involving different players within the mining industry, Minister Jobe said: “We have seen how the environment has been destroyed, particularly in the coastal area. The destruction that has been caused in the coast is enormous and that’s why the ministry of environment is not going to renew some of the licenses, even though the Geological Department gives mining companies licenses, and some of these licenses have expired. They will not be renewed.” 

The convergence, officials said, was meant to have a discussion among stakeholders in the country’s mining sector with the objectives of sharing ideas and generating recommendations in addressing the issues affecting the mining industry.

“The destruction those mining companies cause in the coast is not in the interest of all of us,” the minister said. “The environment has been destroyed and that’s why the Ministry of Environment has taken the decision to stop all the mining activities in that area.”

He continued: “We have seen people going around in some mining areas without license. The law says you can’t mine without a license or a permit. If you do it, then you are breaking the law. We are making these things clear so that people know. We have a responsibility as a people, as a country, as a government and as a ministry to protect our environment.

“We are looking at alternative sites. The president, during a cabinet meeting, constituted a cabinet committee which is chaired by the Vice President and comprises other ministries with the desire to see things are done in the right manner so that we can have sustainable mining. The way things are done in this country has to change.”

The minister of Interior, Siaka Sonko, reminded the gathering of the need to always maintain the country’s peace and stability, while recalling that “what happened at Faraba is regrettable” and that they pray it does not repeat itself, hence the necessity for the forum.

He called on truck drivers in the country to always respect traffic rules when plying the routes. “Our objectives are to ensure that whatever you are doing, you do it the right way,” Minister Sonko said. “I want to remind you all that all lands in this country belong to the state. Therefore, we must safeguard the country’s peace so that we can have tourists in this country.   

“I am really worried about the way things are going on in this country. People think because they have rights, they can do anything they want, which, of course, could affect others. If we can accommodate each other, we can have a very good country.”

Amadou Demba, a transporter, called on government’s stakeholders to always ensure there is fair play in the way and manner mining activities are done in the country.

He agreed that there is a lot of destruction happening at the coast as a result of the mining activities. However, he was quick to add that a lot of construction is also going on as result of the sand that they are extracting from the mining site.

“As stakeholders, we have to come together so that everybody will be treated equally,” he said.“But when you allow some mining activities to happen in Gunjur and you put a stop in other places, it will create a problem. In fact, currently most of the mining sites are closed. Construction can’t go on when these sites are closed.”

Omar Jammeh, on behalf of Julakey Company, said: “The Ministry should intervene and take charge of access to mining sites, road construction and the signing of MOU with communities on behalf of the mining companies while fees and associated cost can be levied to the mining companies to be paid directly to the ministry since the ministry will be working directly with communities.”

On illegal mining, he said they had faced challenges of illegal mining competitions, hence he urged the ministry of energy to impose “strict measures that will permanently stop” illegal mining activities.

He added that registration and license issuance or renewal is another challenge mining companies do face. Therefore, how this is done or enforced should be reviewed, he advised.

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