Breaking/Ethiopia Latest: MIDROC Gold Mining License Suspended
May 9, 2018
(OiPlatform): The Ethiopian Federal government has suspended MIDROC Gold license for Lega Dembi, according to different sources. The sources cite the Ministry of Mines, Petroleum and Natural Gas, which says the future of the company’s license depends on the result of a study that is going to be conducted by independent experts and authorities from the local level up to the federal government. The Ministry does not indicate any timetable for the study to be completed. There have been continuous protests against eh mining of Lega Dembi gold by MIDROC. The protesters claim that the company has been polluting the environment since it started mining gold in the region. It has been reported that security forces have shot and killed at least four protestors.
According to experts familiar with the issue, “Lega Dembi Gold Mining was sold to MIDROC by the Ethiopian Government for 172 million dollars in 1997, and it commenced production in August 1998 in less than a year. The company also uses cyanide, a chemical which is being banned in several jurisdictions around the world, because life is more valuable than gold. This ban has been in place in countries where strict environmental protection regulations exist.”
Now the license is suspended, then what? For those who are concerned about the issue of MIDROC and the environmental damage that has been caused since 1998, several important issues are now implicated:
– Why now? How the same government that renewed the license some days ago, is now saying the issue needs further investigation? Has it not been the case for the past 20 years? Or it is an attempt to appease the protest temporarily?
– Are the authorities going to allow an impartial and thorough investigation?
– Can a credible investigation be conducted considering the existence of rampant corruption and there is vested interest (the country’s wealthiest politicians are accused of being the part of the mining project)?
– Are they going to rehabilitate the environment?
– Are the victims going to be compensated? Is the medical cost for the rest of their life going to be covered?
– Are the responsible individuals going to face prosecution?
Any investigation that is short of addressing the concerns of the people of the region won’t solve the problem.