By Lawrence Williams……

Illegal mining activities along the Pampana River are the main cause of the widespread pollution of Taia (Jong) River, lawmakers observed.

Dredges operated by Turkish miners along Pampana River

Illegal mining activities along the Pampana River are the main cause of the widespread pollution of Taia (Jong) River, lawmakers observed.

A Select Committee headed by Hon. Emerson Lamina reported Turkish nationals dwelling in a forest on Kangari Hills run large-scale mining operations on the beds of the Pampana River at Masene/Wokulla in Tane Chiefdom, Tonkolili District. These ‘illegal’ miners employ sophisticated technologies and toxic chemicals like mercury in their operations. And worst of all, they are protected by RSLAF personnel.

The committee documented reports of similar activities undertaken upstream along the Pampana River. They collected evidence of dredges, excavators operated by the Turkish nationals at Tibenko, noting that could also be evident at Lake Sunfor.

Turkish miners operating dredges, excavators on the Tibenko stream

In an engagement with the Turkish miners, they claimed that their company, Turkish Mining Company, is licensed to operate but said they could not produce the license at that material time.

When checked by this press, the National Minerals Agency’s online Repository does not show or produce any information regarding mineral rights granted to the said company. This suggests that the Turkish Mining Company may not have obtained any such license to undertake large-scale mining activities in that part of the country.

The committee further sourced information from locals who alleged that Chinese and Ghanaians are also involved in some covert mining operations which contribute to polluting Taia River. This statement was further corroborated by chiefdom stakeholders of Yele and Valunia.

In Valunia Chiefdom, Bo District, the Committee noted illegal mining is going on along the Hugy River around Kortu village. Locals told MPs that these miners employ heavy-duty machines during night hours.

Besides these foreigners, indigenes are also heavily engaged in some illegal artisanal mining. Sand mining which, in most cases was found to be illegal, is rampant in various communities. But these artisans however denied their contribution to the problem, casting all blame squarely on foreign miners.

Lawmakers say that the pollution of Taia River has caused widespread destruction to agricultural lands and the marine ecosystem within the affected areas. It has reportedly killed 17 people; negatively impacted farming and fishing activities and ruined water supply networks. In summary, this problem has adverse effects on the livelihoods of locals in communities within the seven chiefdoms of Tane, Valunia, Yele, Taiama, Mattru Jong, Mano Dasseh and Kori.

The committee concluded thus: “…that indeed the Taia/Jong River pollution has been largely caused by mining activities along the Pampana River and its tributary streams in Tonkolili District and Hugy River in Valunia Chiefdom, Bo District, which finally empties downstream into the Taia/Jong River.”

The committee recommends that all paramount chiefs presiding over the said chiefdoms including the mines officers attached thereto be summoned. They also recommend that all illegal mining in the aforementioned areas be kyboshed, and called for urgent actions to be taken to rehabilitate boreholes in the affected communities

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