The Sapo National
Forest, where illegal
gold miners have
been operating
 
Sinoe, south-eastern Liberia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 29 July 2009 – The government of Liberia has started removing the 20 000 illegal gold miners who have been operating in the country’s largest nature reserve, the Sapo National Forest.

“This exercise is aimed at protecting our mining industry, especially the huge gold reserves in that area, from being depleted,” assistant mines minister Walter McCarthy said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg News from here.

The Liberian government is losing about US$25 million (R200 million) a year because of illegal mining of the nation’s diamond and gold resources, said mine inspection agency spokesman Stephen Gbana. The west African nation is rebuilding its economy after civil wars between 1989 and 2003, in which an estimated 250 000 people died and most of the country’s infrastructure was destroyed.

Most of the illegal miners ignored an order issued last month by Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf instructing them to vacate the protected forest area.

The park contains the Sinoe gold belt, which may have deposits of up to 1 million oz of gold, according to the Liberian ministry of lands, mines & energy.