The maths was merciless. Siah had the equivalent of $5 in her pocket but needed $15 to treat her youngest son Joseph’s malaria. She had travelled an hour to the nearest clinic only to discover she couldn’t afford the medicine. Joseph died that day, as she cradled him in her arms.
Siah lives in Kinjor, a small town in the lush forests of western Liberia. Just a few steps from her home, Liberia’s largest commercial gold mine, New Liberty Gold, plans to dig out a billion dollars-worth of the precious metal.
The Liberian government and its multilateral funding partners see commercial mining as a path to development in a country still recovering from the impact of 11 years of civil war.
Under the law, communities are obliged to give up their land rights and move, in return for compensation. But IRIN’s months-long investigation can reveal that financial reward isn’t always forthcoming from the foreign mining operations.