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Bea Mountain Polluted River in Cape Mount Again, Report Finds

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Top: Investigators of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at Bea Mountain Mining Corporation’s waste plant in Kinjor, Grand Cape Mount County. Picture credit: Facebook/EPA Liberia


By Mark B. Newa


MONROVIA – Chemicals from a waste facility operated by Bea Mountain Mining Corporation (BMMC) leaked into a river in Grand Cape Mount County in February,  a report concealed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), obtained by The DayLight, found.

It marks the second year in a row for the pollution to happen and the fifth time within the last decade, according to official records and The DayLight’s review of news articles.    

The report, conducted the same month of the spillage but has not been published, found cyanide and copper from the plant at the New Liberty Goldmine seeped into water sources in Jikando, Gola Konneh District. It said EPA investigators saw Bea Mountain release copper sulphate from the facility into the environment. Cyanide and copper sulphate are used to mine gold and are dangerous to people’s health, and can lead to death.   

“The death of aquatic species may have resulted from elevated free cyanide and dissolved copper levels due to exposure to higher than permissible limits of free cyanide,” the report said.  It called on Bea Mountain to “regularly repair and upgrade” the plant according to its waste management permit. It also mandated the firm to supply villagers with food and water for 45 days after February 20, and that the period could be extended.  

“No sign of life was observed in the Marvoe Creek,” according to the report. Marvoe Creek is one of the largest tributaries that connect to Mafa River, which meanders along several villages and empties into Lake Piso in Robertsport, the western county’s capital. 

By polluting the environment in the area, Bea Mountain violated the Environmental Protection and Management Law of Liberia. Violators of the law face up to a US$50,000 fine upon conviction in court.

The report added that Bea Mountain collected its own sample, instead of an independent firm as the law requires. It said the lawyer of the community also extracted a sample of dead fish from the scene of the pollution.

The report said Bea Mountain did not implement all of the recommendations from the report on last year’s spillage but failed to mention specific recommendations.  It called on Bea Mountain to resettle villagers living next to the waste facility amid persistent pollution.

A diagrammed drone photo of the New Liberty Mine. Picture credit: Bea Mountain Mining Corporation

“The community vowed to protest if the issue of the pollution is not adequately addressed by the government,” it said.  People are migrating to other places since last year’s incident, leaving the Jikando with 250 people, according to the report. Other residents also want out, it added.

It was unclear whether the EPA notified the company of the penalties associated with the spillage, one of the things the report recommended.  EPA did not immediately respond to The DayLight’s queries on why it kept the report on this year’s spillage secret. Unlike last year’s incident, there was no statement or press conference this term. The public is yet to get any information on the penalties the agencies imposed on the company at any time.

Concealing information violates the public-participation principle of the environmental law of Liberia. The principle mandates the EPA to “ensure maximum participation by the Liberian people in the management and decision-making processes of the environment and natural resources.”

Previous Spills

This year’s spillage happened 10 months after the one last year. That May, an EPA report found spillage of chemicals from the same waste facility. Pictures of a dead dog and fish due to the spillage flooded social media pages.

The EPA said in a statement at the time the company “Severely disrupted and injured the livelihood of the communities that depend on these water sources.”  

Bea Mountain denied any wrongdoing, saying the report was “inconclusive and filled with analytical gaps. We are confident and particularly reaffirm our position of being in no breach of any required scientific standards,” it said in a statement at the time. The EPA then issued another statement, restating its position that a chemical compound had leaked from the company’s waste plant.

But in a dramatic turnaround, the EPA cleared the company of wrongdoing on August 8, just over two months after it found the leak. The agency said it was “pleased to inform you that all facilities tested were appreciably below the permissible level set up by the EPA.”

That was not the first spillage. There were three previous spills in 2015, 2016 and 2018. Villages said they caught rashes after using water from nearby creeks following the accident. Bea Mountain denied people sick.

In 2021, over 10,000 villagers filed a complaint with German and French banks DEG and Proparco, respectively, over 2015 the 2016 pollutions. The banks invested in the goldmine.

Efforts to contact Bea Mountain for this story did not immediately materialize. We will update the story once we get comments from the company or the EPA.

Bea Mountain Mining Corporation signed a 25-year agreement with the Liberian government on July 29, 2009. The Turkish-owned industrial goldmine is Liberia’s first goldmine. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank, invested some £5.3 million in the project.  


[CORRECTION: This version of the story corrects a previous, which left out a 2018 spill to make it five in a decade]

Funding for this story was provided by the Green Livelihood Alliance (GLA 2.0) through the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI). The DayLight maintained complete editorial independence over the story’s content.

EPA Somersaults Over Cape Mount River Pollution

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Top: The Environmental Protection Agency has flipped its initial findings that Bea Mountain Mining Corporation caused the pollution of rivers in Grand Cape Mount County. Picture credit: Environmental Protection Agency/Facebook


By James Harding Giahyue

MONROVIA – The Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia (EPA) has cleared Bea Mountain Mining Corporation over the pollution of rivers in Grand Cape Mount, reversing its earlier findings that a waste facility operated by the company had polluted waterfronts in the western county.

“A technical team from the agency completed a final round of environmental assessment and water-quality testing on the Marvoe Creek downstream the New Liberty Goldmine… and is pleased to inform you that all facilities tested were appreciably below the permissible level set up by the EPA,” the agency said in a statement on Monday. It said it finalized its investigation in July.

The statement did not say what led to the reversal of the initial findings. The EPA had said it would conduct a final report only to find out what led to the death of fish, not a fresh round of investigation. However, it did not say what killed the fish.

The new findings are the complete opposite of the EPA’s preliminary findings back in June after villagers discovered dead fish and a dog in rivers they use for drinking.

It said at the time that “excess” cyanide, a chemical used to wash gold but dangerous to human health, spilled from the facility at the company’s New Liberty Gold Mine in Kinjor and emptied into the rivers.

“The analysis results showed higher than [the] permissible level of free cyanide (with source from the BMMC tailing storage facility),” it had said. “The presence of excess cyanide led to the contamination of the water sources and that the situation has severely disrupted and injured the livelihood of the communities that depend on those water resources...”

BMMC had denied the results, saying EPA’s findings were “inconclusive and filled with analytical gaps.”

“We are confident and particularly reaffirm our position of being in no breach of any required scientific standards. We note that the EPA has found no evidence of damage to or any spill or irregular discharge from the [tailing storage facility],” it said at the time.

The EPA then reacted that two days later that its preliminary findings were “based on scientific analysis and data collected by well-trained technicians and scientists in the field.”

It had warned villagers not to drink from the water, asking the company to continue to supply affected communities.

The rivers are now consumable, the statement said, thanking villagers for cooperating with authorities, and the company for its support to villagers during the period of investigation.

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