Thursday, January 11, 2007

Old Man Liberia

Old Man Liberia


Look at the man on his way home from the clinic pleased with his bandage and packet of aspirin. He is confused without even knowing it. After years of neglect, he is so happy for any treatment at all. He is satisfied with a palliative when what he needed was a cure for his chronic condition. Is Old Man Liberia confused again?

The deal between steel giant Arcelor Mittal and the Liberian Government is done. That added time in negotiation is really going to pay off. So here we are the once 900 million USD project in Yekepa is now the 1 billion USD project.

Great, just remember all mining is associated with environmental degradation. However, negative effects can be reduced if prior to the project implementation we can work on design and management plans to minimize the negative social and environmental impacts. So part of the 1 billion could buy:

- Regulation, monitoring and enforcement of environmental laws.

- Research, monitoring and analysis of health impacts from mining operations before and after closure.

- Adequate and secure reclamation bonds on all mining operations.

- Research about and protection of the tax base when the mine is closed, and/or protection of the town from bankruptcy.

- Planning for infrastructure maintenance - roads, rail, sewer, water, energy when they were linked with the mine infrastructure;

- Regional land-use and economic development programs to ensure that resource wealth is shared, that natural capital is protected and that ecologically sound uses are retained on the land base.

We do not want the old man to be sick forever, do we?

Cure or bandage and aspirin?

J. Carl Dealy