In order to bring development to its operating area in western Liberia, Cape Mount County to be specific, the Bea Mountain Mining Company (BMMC) has taken the lead in its social responsibility for the people in that part of the country; highlighting many of its services.
Kinjor Village Clinic Ready for Turnover
At the request of BMMC, Grand Cape Mount County Health Officers, Dr Jimi Brewer and Mr. Jallah conducted a final inspection of the Kinjor Village Clinic to assess the facility before turnover to the Liberian government for administration. In his report to the Minister of Health, Dr Bernice Dahn, Dr Brewer described the Clinic facility 99% ready for use. Dr Brewer’s report also recommended the addition of a self-contained bathroom in the maternal room and floor tiles installation in the outpatient department. BMMC has completed all the additions recommended and the structure is awaiting turnover to the Government of Liberia.
The management of BMMC has resumed the construction of the resettlement homes in New Kinjor Village with the moulding of soil blocks for the construction. The block making enterprise is part of the Mine’s obligation to livelihood restoration, while addressing the permanent housing commitment to direct project affected people who were resettled because of the operation of the New Liberty Gold Mine (NLGM) project.
The locals performing block making services were identified as key stakeholders with the technical know-how to implement the block production from materials that were accessible, and capable of withstanding the impact of earthquake.
Eighty-three project affected residents are receiving livelihood income from various forms of construction services they are providing for the resettlement home construction.
The Manager of Community and Government Relations for BMMC, Mr. Sando Wayne, explained that BMMC is collaborating with the project affected people to construct permanent houses for the affected population of Kinjor and Larjor villages. Their residents were engaged to set up a HydraForm Brick Moulding Enterprise of New Kinjor Village. Distrust and internal wrangling amongst the villagers led them to inviting the BMMC management to provide capacity and organizational support to assist with building managerial capacity for a sustain and profitable enterprise after the construction of the resettlement houses. The RAP, Section “10.4.2 (e) Community Agreement promised affected communities: “At the end of the RAP project, Aureus [BMMC] will donate the three machines to the local community who will then have a brick making business for future expansion projects or for direct selling to other communities.”
BMMC has currently completed more than 100 housing units and toilet blocks, which are ready for turnover to the beneficiaries. The remaining units are expected to be completed in 2018. The permanent housing units form part of BMMC’s core obligation to the residents of affected communities.
The initiative which has been oversighted by the Department of Community and Government Relations started production of HydraForm bricks on July 11, 2017. The enterprise runs two shifts of eight hours each day.
Community Relations, Manager Wayne explained that blocks produced by the locals with the HydraForm technology were of the same quality as cement blocks, and added that the HydraForm machines only required limited quantity of cement to mould blocks.
According to him, more than 80 artisans have been trained in the BMMC catchment area in the use of the HydraForm machine for blocks production.
He indicated that with the RAP agreement to turn over the HydraForm machines to the affected communities after the completion of the housing project, the new block cooperative to be formed, will reduce the challenges facing the rural housing sector in BMMC catchment and beyond, while becoming an ongoing livelihood restoration activity for them.
On the issue of a Market Plan, Mr. Wayne said BMMC has begun a process to develop a market plan to help the block makers track housing development in BMMC’s catchment areas and market the HydraForm block making technology to the residents.
The market plan, he explained, would be led by the current team of 66 block makers who will play a critical role in the transformational efforts of the housing construction in the Darblo Clan, Gola Konneh District, and beyond.
He noted that the Kinjor Block Making enterprise team, which would be producing the bricks for the completion of the resettlement houses next year, would be complemented by other groups whose focus would be on mechanized agriculture, woodworking, tailoring, revolving credit facility, and small business creation.
Mr. Wayne said the use of the HydraForm block making technology for the resettlement home construction was backed by BMMC policy to facilitate the provision of employable skills for former artisanal miners and to restore them to new livelihood activities.
BMMC Workers Set for Pay Raise September
BMMC’s employees hoping for larger pay raises will not have to wait too long. A new negotiated settlement reached between the workers, represented by their Workers’ Union and BMMC, led by its CEO, Serhan Umurhan, brokered a solution to workers’ demands for upward adjustments in their salaries. This takes effect September 1, 2017. This is the first pay raise by Avesoro Inc. since its takeover of BMMC, one year ago.
Speaking following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding reached by both parties, CEO Umurhan indicated that BMMC will continue to reward its best performers with larger purses to retain its top staff as well as to strengthen the mine’s commitment to rewarding good performance.
The BMMC CEO said his company will rely more on variable pay, such as annual incentives and performance bonuses, which would be generally tied to the Company and employee performance goals. “By this means, we will recognize and reward our star performers with significantly larger increases, while providing minimal increases to the weakest performers,” Mr. Umurhan added.
BMMC planned salary increases is in three tiers – income earners in the highest tier will receive 10% increase, slightly less than the second tier that gets 15% increase. And those in the first tier can expect slightly larger raises — 25% as of September 1, 2017. This move puts BMMC under significant pressure to increase its salary budget in the near term, while at the same time having to deal with transitional challenges from the predecessor of Avesoro Incorporated.
The pay raise comes after BMMC Workforce, the “concern workers,” on 27th August 2Ol7, sent an email communication to Management demanding reform to a wide range of lingering work-place challenges and other entitlement issues. The Concern Workers called for immediate redress from the Management.
The management of BMMC was quick to react. CEO Umurhan made an unscheduled visit to Liberia and invited the United Workers Union of Liberia (UWUL), the representative of the BMMC workers, and representatives of the Ministry of Labor to the New Liberty Gold Mine for talks on the amicable resolution of the matter. An MoU was negotiated and signed by management and the workers, witnessed by the Ministry of Labor and UWUL, leading to the restoration of operations at the mine.
In addition to the pay raises, the MOU granted workers one week off-duty break, after every 28-day work period; reprieve for employees who supported the concern workers; and the establishment of a disciplinary committee involving the workers, UWUL, and Management to address grievances in the operation of the mine.
Concluding the negotiation with his workers, CEO Umurhan made this observation: “Wherever mines have done business, engaging with affected workers, the communities and responding to their concerns is essential to operating successfully while ensuring respect for human rights.”
The establishment of the Disciplinary Committee will complement BMMC approved Community Grievance Mechanism, which has been in effect since April 4th of this year. BMMC’s “Community Grievance Mechanism (CGM) is a locally based, formalized way to accept, assess, and resolve workers and community complaints concerning the performance or behavior of the company, its contractors, or employees” according to the Manager of Community and Government Relations, Mr. Sando Wayne, whose Department is responsible for implementing the CGM. It provides a means by which affected individuals or communities can raise questions or concerns with the company and have them addressed in a prompt and consistent manner. He said, “when the CGM is applied effectively it will offer the prospect of a more efficient, immediate and inexpensive form of dispute resolution for both the mine and its catchment communities.”
BMMC Strengthens Community Relations
Relationship between the Company and its surrounding communities, including those affected by its operations, has in recent times spiraled to heights that have spurred noteworthy bonds of cooperation and collaboration.
A driver in enhancing company/community ties has remained the strategy where all exploration and other programs are preceded by education and sensitization sessions with concerned communities, creating a new sense of awareness regarding what exploration is (as opposed to prevailing misconception taking the exercise to mean mineral exploitation).
This platform has helped immensely in managing the expectations of the local community, which remains a major challenge.
A cardinal aspect of the ties being built with the communities is the Community Grievance Mechanism (CGM), which has been in effect since April 4th of this year.
The CGM is a locally-based, formalized way to accept, assess, and resolve workers and community complaints concerning the performance of or behavior of the Company, its contractors, or employees. Set up by the BMMC, the CGM is run by its Department of Community and Government Relations.
Keeping the promises made to the communities has increased the esteem, integrity and credibility of the BMMC in the eyes of host and affected communities. Community dwellers have become the first line of reference in terms of employment, contracting, and service provision.
HydraForm Blocks Making Enterprise ResumesToday, residents of our surrounding communities are the providers of sand, bricks, woodwork and labor for construction activities and some are employed as an auxiliary security guard service among other things, raking in thousands of dollars for their sector and livelihood restoration.
The women are undertaking a Village Saving and Loan Scheme launched by BMMC, while the elders and villagers were donated over 600 pieces of 25kg bags of rice valued at US$10,000, bringing them smiles as they celebrated the top fete of National Independence Day on July 26.
The clinic constructed by the Company in New Kinjor is ready for handover to government, and more than a hundred housing units have been completed for turnover, while the schools are undergoing expansion construction; supplies and salary payment subsidy by the BMMC for the teachers in the public schools and Government workers in its catchment communities.
A new rallying point of the local populace is the local football club, FC Bea Mountain, which as a new entrant came fifth in the second division league of the Liberia Football Association (LFA).
147 Kinjor Residents Pilot “Village Savings Loan” Scheme
One hundred and forty-seven Kinjor Village household members are benefitting from the Village Savings Loan program launched by the BMMC management in collaboration with the National Apex Of Village Saving and Loan Associations (NAPEX) of Liberia, last month.
According to Peter Benson, Project Coordinator and lead trainer of NAPEX of Liberia, “The purpose of the collaboration with BMMC is to implement the project Yellow Paint VSLA Training: 5 Women Groups functioning as effective VSLAs to help Kinjor households, in particular women, make investments both inside and outside the agriculture sector and to establish VSLAs, which after a month of operation will receive from BMMC US$3,000.00 or its Liberian Dollars equivalent per association as a grant to enhance their loan portfolio.”
The scheme is a revolving credit facility which allows in-group members to collect dues and loan out money to qualified members in good credit standing to drive enterprise initiatives.
At graduation ceremony of the trainees on Sunday, August 27, 2017, in Kinjor Townhall, the 5 pilot groups thanked the BMMC Management for the experience and described it as “an eye opener to limitless possibilities.”
As part of its livelihood restoration program, BMMC contracted with NAPEX to provide the training and support services for the pilot project of five village savings (30 members per group) bodies in Kinjor Village. The training was climaxed by refreshment provided by BMMC and a demonstration of learnt skills by one of the groups.
The initiative has already begun showing positive fruits as depicted by the savings records of the 5 pilot groups just organized from the training:
- Hope for Tomorrow VSLA
|# of Meetings||Date||Fines||Social Fund||Share||Attendance|
|1||03/09/2017||LD 755.00||LD 900.00||LD 6,000.00||18|
|TOTAL CASH||LD 16,705.00|
- Kambawamukor VSLA
|# of Meeting||Date||Fines||Social Fund||Share||Attendance|
|1||27/08/2017||LD 240.00||LD 1, 300.00||LD 7,600.00||26|
|TOTAL||LD 330.00||LD 3,150.00||LD 20,200.00||63|
|TOTAL CASH||LD 23,680.00|
- Mutamu VSLA
|# of Meeting||Date||Fines||Social Fund||Share||Attendance|
|1||30/08/2017||LD 590.00||LD 800.00||LD 9,200.00||16|
|TOTAL||LD 660.00||LD 1,800.00||LD 19,000.00||36|
|TOTAL CASH||LD 21,460.00|
- Tajah VSLA
|# of Meeting||Date||Fines||Social Fund||Share||Attendance|
|1||27/08/2017||LD 20.00||LD 1,400.00||LD 5,400.00||28|
|TOTAL||LD 320.00||LD 3,850.00||LD 30,410.00||77|
|TOTAL CASH||LD 34,580.00|
- Touch One Touch All VSLA
|# of Meeting||Date||Fines||Social Fund||Share||Attendance|
|1||09/08/2017||LD 1,200.00||LD 950.00||LD 7,800.00||19|
|TOTAL||LD 1,200.00||LD 950.00||LD 7,800.00||19|
|TOTAL CASH||LD 9,950.00|
|1||Hope for Tomorrow VSLA||LD 805.00||LD 2,100.00||LD 13,800.00||42|
|5||Touch One Touch All VSLA||1,200.00||950.00||7,800.00||19|
|SUB-TOTAL||LD 3,315.00||LD 11,850.00||LD 91,210.00||
|GRAND TOTAL CASH||LD 106,375.00|
NAPEX-VSLA is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization established to coordinate, train, monitor, and supervise, all Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) in Liberia. Its mission is to help improve the socio-economic livelihood of under privileged Liberians specially women, in providing VSLA Methodology Training, Business Skills Trainings, Income Generating Activities, Financial Management, Savings and Loan Transactions, Bank Linkage, engagement in community works, and sustainable agro-enterprise development amongst others.
The Department of Community & Government Relations and the Administrative Manager’s Office will manage the Village Savings Loan Program.
BMMC Upholds Regulatory Compliance
BMMC technicians have reported the presence of fish in the rivers near the downstream communities of Jekandoh, Malina, and Korma. This means that the water is safe and the communities can now resume normal livelihood activities, such as washing clothes, fishing and other activities. Based on reports of two independent international studies on improvements in the aquatic life of the water, BMMC invited the Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia on a joint field tour of the villages to assure the residents of the safety of their river for livelihood activities. At the successful conclusion of the tour, BMMC informed the residents of scaling back on the monthly food supply to their communities by the end of the year. The last food supply to the communities is 31st December 2017.
BMMC is also in full compliance with regulatory performance requirements in the handling and control of chemicals and explosives for the mine. During an inter-governmental agency regulatory inspection of site, early this year, the team, led by the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, praised the Mine’s compliance regime in the handling of explosive ordinances, including the ordering and inventory system─first-in, last out. Though they observed that explosives on the mine were stored in containers on three feet (3ft) concrete pillars, fenced and guarded all times by assigned securities, the team recommended that the pillars supporting the explosive containers be elevated to at least five feet (5ft). BMMC has since complied with the recommendation and is ready further monitoring by the joint agency team.
BMMC Meeting the Promise of Livelihood Restoration
Sand supplied by Kinjor villagers for mine construction work continues to generate livelihood income for villagers. Recently, Management paid Kinjor village sand suppliers US$1,500 compensation for a six consignment dump truck loads of sand as support to stimulate the restoration of livelihood activities in Kinjor Village. Sand supply for mine’s construction work is an ongoing livelihood income support activity by BMMC for Kinjor Villagers. The Mine pays US$100 to US$225 per dump truckload of sand supplied by the village. BMMC supplies the rental trucks for the sand delivery. Villagers received US$15,000 profit from the first batch of 100 regular dump truck loads of sand for a US$25,000 contract.
A woodwork enterprise is ongoing. Currently, it is generating livelihood income for 18 villagers engaged in a cooperative venture. The wood shop provides all wood products for construction work at the mine and the resettlement village, including items such as window and door frames.
Security Watch Services: In addition to the job creation scheme for the affected communities, the company has also secured the service of community residents to strengthen the security watch in the RAP Village during the construction of housing units. Kinjor Extended Guard Services is working with SOGUSS, a local private security firm providing business linkage to BMMC’s operation to ensure security for finished buildings and construction materials used for the RAP Housing construction. The extended guard service is also another form of livelihood income generation initiative being provided by BMMC for villagers. Currently, 18 community residents of Kinjor Village make up the Kinjor Extended Guard Service.
Student Vacation Jobs:
Thirty students of the Darblo Clan benefited from BMMC’s 2017 vacation job program, started in August. The students are attending various schools in Grand Cape Mount County.
Each participating student received US$150 as an allowance to help families prepare the beneficiaries for the school year, which is already in progress. The vacation students worked for 12 days in various departments of BMMC. Speaking at the climax of the vacation job program, Mr. Sando Wayne, BMMC’s Manager for Community and Government Relations informed students that the allowances they received represent the Company’s support for continued excellence in their studies. He urged the students to invest more time in their studies be ready to benefit from future opportunities and the experience of exposure to the operations of the mine, including becoming the next generation of mine-managers.
Presenting the students on behave of the community, Mr. E. Siaffa Fahnbulleh, elder of Kinjor Village, thanked the BMMC management for the support their children received and expressed their parents’ gratitude for the assistance to prepare them for school. The beneficiary students were beaming with smiles and full of praises for the BMMC support. They planned to use their allowances to purchase school material for the academic year. The brief program took place at the Lonestar Cell Tower site of the New Liberty Gold Mine Project in Gola Konneh District, Grand Cape Mount County
Kinjor Public School:
BMMC will provide stationery supplies and renovate the Kinjor public school for the start of the school year. The undertaking is in the tune of US$4,766.50. As part of its corporate social responsibilities, BMMC also provides monthly top-up allowances for 9 teachers and the principal of the school.
According to school authorities, the Kinjor Public school will begin operating a 9th grade class this school year. The school is now working on a facility expansion to accommodate additional classrooms for the growth of the school. Last year the school enrolled 502 students with girls’ enrollment topping the list of attendees.
Bea Mountain Mining Corporation (BMMC), donated 625 twenty-five-kilogram bags of rice with a value of US$10,000 to communities in areas surrounding its operations. BMMC operates the New Liberty Gold Mine, Liberia’s first commercial gold mine and holds a Mineral Development Agreement, which covers all of Gola Konneh District and the Mendimassa Clan of Tewor District, Grand Cape Mount County.
The Elders of Kinjor Village as well as elders in all BMMC exploration communities in Grand Cape Mount County were delighted when the management of the Mine distributed the rice ahead of the observance of Liberia’s 170th Independence Day.
According to a dispatch quoting the Community and Government Relations Manager, Mr. Sando Wayne, the objective of this exercise was to identify with citizens of the mining communities, especially the elderly and their families and enable them to joyously celebrate the Country’s Independence Day, which falls on July 26 each year. “The rice donation is not a silver bullet, but it is a promising approach to fulfilling the needs of the elderly within our host communities and foster genuine partnership with them. We are happy to identify with them in observance of Liberia’s independence celebration,” Manager Wayne, underscored. He went to add, “Our goal through this donation is to demonstrate commitment to our corporate social responsibilities, strengthen our partnership with the local communities, while ensuring a win-win situation for all sides”.
The recipient community representatives in their respective responses, thanked the management of BMMC for its thoughtfulness and concern for the elderly of Kinjor Village, the Darblo Clan, the residents of the exploration communities, and the country in general. They further said that the donations to them manifest the cementing of the enduring cordial relations with the management of the mine as they celebrate their Country’s 170th Independence Anniversary.
The rice distribution was as follows:
Production Site in Darblo Clan got 383 bags of rice to distribute in clan villages, while Exploration Sites were given 242 bags for distribution:
- Ndablama (Laah Clan, Gola Konneh) ─70 bags of rice distributed to clan villages
- Weajue (Mana Clan, Gola Konneh District) ─ 60 bags of rice for sharing among clan villages
- Silver Hill (Darblo Clan) – 40 bags of rice to clan villages
- Sarama (Mendimassa Clan, Tewor District) 72 bags for clan villages
The Mine provides employment for nearly 1,500 people and is supplied by various national service providers including AAP, CMC, SOGUSS. Liberians account for 1,180 of this number. Liberian nationals and the associated subcontractors’ account for majority of the total workforce.
BMMC’s ongoing Community Relations Support (monthly top-up allowances) for School Teachers and GoL assigned securities in Exploration and production communities
Top-up allowances for teachers/Gov’t workers
in BMMC Catchment
|9||State Securities assigned Kinjor||6|
FC Bea Mountain Sits 5th On LFA 2nd Division League Table
After finishing fifth in the 2016/2017 second division league season of the Liberia Football Association, the Technical Director of Cape Mount-based FC Bea Mountain, Emmanuel Shoniyin, has praised the management of BMMC for the level of support during the just-ended league season. Shoniyin said FC Bea Mountain, owned by the Bea Mountain Mining Company (BMMC), finished in the fifth position of the second-tier league due to the overwhelming support from the management.
FC Bea Mountain ended the first half of the season at the bottom of the league after collecting six points from 11 games, but recovered in the second half of the season, a recovery that Shoniyin attributed to the level of support from the management in phase-two of the season. “Football is a technical game and it has to do with both organization, resource, and moral support, and so we immediately found that answer in a very responsive BMMC management. We scouted new players to beef up the team’s capacity, invited former National Coach, J. Kaetus Smith to help with players’ selection and organize workshops for players and technical staff for three days.
BMMC also rented a dormitory facility in Kinjor Village for the 26 players and 9 technical staff. A total of 35 BMMC athletes have been accommodated and fed 3 times a day by the Company. The players received bonuses for every victory won, regular game allowances, including provision of full football gears and medical support for injuries sustained during practices and games. This is how we turn the corner,” he said.
According to Shoniyin, the additional support from BMMC to the team in the second half of the season made an impact. The team officially signed 6 new players, including striker Leon Power Quamic from Watanga FC, Jacob Popu and John ‘Jarma-Jarma’ Zota from relegated Holder FC, former FC Fassel player Lansana Saysay and Daniel Paye from Monrovia Club Breweries, and Wilfred Young to build up the team for the remaining half of the season. “Management also increased the players’ bonuses and allowances, which motivated them to put up a better performance in the remaining games; and we were able to recover from our phase-one nightmare,” he added.
Shoniyin has, meanwhile, expressed confidence over the team’s level of preparedness for the upcoming season and assured supporters of the club that the team will have a better showing going forward.
FC Bea Mountain successfully ended the LFA National League clinching fifth place on the league table, following a streak of 7 victories and one draw in its last eight matches. The team clinched its final victory in a one to zero match against FC Ganta City in Nimba County. Twelve teams participated in the LFA National Second Division league last season.
BMMC Project Affected Communities in Retrospect
By May 2013, Kinjor and Larjor villages comprised 325 households with a combined population of about 2,077 individuals to be resettled. The project’s impact on land resulted in a partial loss of livelihood for some families. However, BMMC has worked closely with affected communities to understand the extent of the livelihood impacts and reached agreement on appropriate compensation and mitigation measures. A negotiated agreement for land acquisition and livelihood restoration was finalized in October 2013 in a Resettlement Action Plan, which was accepted by the Government of Liberia.
The resettled households were individually compensated by BMMC for tree crops and other non-moveable assets in the mine footprint within 500 meters blasting zone. In addition to allowances, each household received benefits in the form of temporary housing and assurances of the construction of improved and modern permanent housing units on a 150 acre of land purchased by BMMC from the Darblo Clan in 2014. Facilities such as school, health clinic, Mosque, Church, market, and townhall; and services, such as toilets and borehole handpumps were provided after moving to New Kinjor in 2013. BMMC has also committed to formal obligations to provide support for livelihood developments until these targets are achieved for all affected households.
To help the affected families reach this target, a variety of in-kind support were provided to them in forms of agricultural inputs (defunct HOPFOTO), elders gratuities, organizational support, skills training in HydraForm block making technology, woodwork, and tailoring. The target for completing the resettlement village was December 2013, but had to be renegotiated with affected people because of the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease and short fall in capital flow to the project.
The Project configuration has been completed with significant consideration of both the social and environmental setting of the project location. The Project footprint lies outside the New Kinjor Village and the surrounding villages. The infrastructure design minimizes the footprint impact and utilizes the local topography to ensure a sympathetic infrastructure layout that meets the needs of both local communities and the surrounding environmental conditions. The Project has been constructed and operated in line with both international and Liberian regulatory requirements in respect of its environmental and social performance.
BMMC has a comprehensive environmental and social management plan that spans all stages of the Project’s life and specifically recognizes the environmental sensitivity of the Project development area arising from its proximity to the Mavoe Creek and the Mafa River. To this end, a detailed Biodiversity Action Plan was developed by the Company, which outlines the strategy for mitigating Project-related impacts and offsetting residual impacts to achieve at least a No Net Loss of biodiversity. We believe that this will help to deliver a forward thinking, constructive engagement model for conservation management in Liberia.
While BMMC currently provides permanent employment for 38% of the resettled yellow paint holders and a significant number from the Darblo Clan and Grand Cape Mount County at large, its positive impacts mainly relate to the economic advantages associated with the Project. The project pays taxes and royalties to the Government of Liberia; provides employment opportunities for Liberians, training, purchase of goods manufactured or supplied in Liberia; commercial opportunities and an improvement in local infrastructure at the resettlement site.