Liberian Senate Approves 25-Year Extension for Bea Mountain Mineral Development Agreement
MONROVIA – In a special session held on Wednesday, August 30, 2023, the Liberian Senate has granted its approval for an amended mineral development agreement that extends Bea Mountain’s operations in Liberia by an additional 25 years.
The amendment received a favorable vote from 15 Senators, while 5 Senators opposed it, with no abstentions. The adjusted concession agreement, negotiated between Bea Mountain Mining Corporation (BMC) and the Government of Liberia, paves the way for the company’s prolonged presence in the country.
On the same day, the Senate’s Plenary passed the First Amendment to the Restated and Amended Agreement of BMMC, following a recommendation from the Senate Joint Committee. The Committee, which oversaw a public hearing involving relevant sectorial agencies, is primarily composed of members from the Committee on Mines, Energy, Natural Resources, and Environment.
The Joint Committee strongly endorsed the ratification of the First Amendment to the Restated and Amended Mineral Development Agreement between the Liberian Government and Bea Mountain Mining Corporation (BMMC). The committee’s recommendation cited numerous improvements that this amendment brings.
One notable facet of the new 25-year agreement is that BMMC will invest an additional US$520 million into Liberia. The revised agreement outlines provisions for an accumulative Community Development Fund (CDF), Clan Development Fund, 50 percent surface rental fees, five percent equity ownership, and enhanced financial benefits for the communities affected by the company’s operations.
The Joint Committee emphasized that the adjustments made under the First Amendment will lead to significant financial benefits for Liberia when considering all taxes and levies. This, in turn, will provide the nation with substantial advantages compared to the previous Restated and Amended Mineral Development Agreement from 2013.
The Committee’s report also highlights an expected surge in job opportunities for Liberians. The employment count is projected to increase from the existing 3,500 jobs under the Restated and Amended Agreement to 4,000 jobs in the First Amendment to the Restated Agreement.
Moreover, as part of the First Amendment, Bea Mountain Mining Corporation will expand its operational area from 485 sq/km to 537 sq/km, resulting in higher surface rental fees.
The Senate Committee on Mines, Energy, Natural Resources, and Environment expressed unanimous support for the passage and ratification of the First Amendment to the Restated Agreement. The Joint Committee further recommended that the company allocate an additional One Hundred Thousand United States Dollars to each of the four clans (Mana, Darblo, Seimavula, and Menmassa) for clan development purposes. This contribution will be made through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) within six months following ratification.
With the Senate’s ratification, the Plenary directed the Secretary of the Liberian Senate to transmit the ratified document to the House of Representatives for concurrence.
Prior to Senate’s action, Grand Cape Mount County Senator Simeon Taylor convened a townhall meeting with citizens of the county to solicit their input in the draft Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) negotiation between Bea Mountain and the Liberian Government before its finalization.
During a town hall meeting held in Tahn on Thursday, residents of the county emphasized their desire for the ratified MDA to incorporate terms and conditions that align with their welfare. Key focal points included ensuring job security, enhancing opportunities for national and international scholarships, and implementing salary increments and additional employee benefits.
The community is urging the revision of the Community Development Fund (CDF) stipulated in the new agreement, advocating for an increase from the current US$250,000 to a substantial US$1 million.
Furthermore, the citizens underscored the importance of equitable distribution of the annual survey rental fees of US$4 per acre for production. They suggested a fair 50/50 division between the community and the Government of Liberia, while expressing that the government’s involvement in the fee distribution should be reconsidered.