Exploratory study in artisanal small-scale mining in Liberia
Although Liberia has significant mineral wealth, due to the informality of the artisanal and small-scale mining sector (ASM), and a limited government capacity to monitor it, the country cannot maximise the revenue from the exploitation of non-renewable resources. The Liberian Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) currently relies on underpaid agents and volunteers to monitor the ASM sector. The MME leadership has expressed concern that without a steady salary or oversight, these agents demand informal payments from miners rather than collecting the license fees that contribute to government revenues. Moreover, with limited enforcement capacity and porous borders, the MME is losing out on royalties due to rampant smuggling.
The MME has reached out to researchers at the International Growth Centre (IGC) and at the Project on Resource Governance to identify policy interventions that help formalise its ASM sector and increase revenue mobilisation. The collaborative work will help MME identify and pilot new strategies that can strengthen Liberian government’s ability to generate revenue from its minerals sector and its capacity to monitor the sector effectively. Reaping higher returns from its ASM sector will help Liberia achieve sustainable economic growth.
Six months of exploratory work will be conducted with the MME to investigate the extent and nature of legal and illegal mining and understand the constraints to effectively monitor and co-design pilot interventions that can mobilise revenue from the Liberia ASM sector. Exploratory work will be done jointly with officials from MME with an embedded Research Associate from Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA). The embedded researcher will help MME evaluate potential ideas for feasibility, identify existing administrative data to design interventions, and work to build a buy-in with key stakeholders.