Gao Feng (Barry) Illegally Operates With Overlapping Mining Licenses?
Recently, it was reported in the media that a Chinese, Gao Feng, alias Barry, has been maneuvering his way into the Liberian mining sector, and bribing his way to secure several areas for his mining activities, robbing the nation of valued mineral resources that could have improved the living condition of the citizenry.
Information received by the Hot Pepper is that Feng has had a great deal of influence over the Ministry of Mines and Energy during recent years, allegedly bribing several individuals at the ministry and, to a certain extent, causing officials of the ministry to do things that infringe on the rights of other miners to appease his interest.
According to information, Feng owns and operates the Urban & Rural Services Inc., which is carrying out mining activities in Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh, Gbarpolu County, Lofa and Bong counties. He is said to have over 50 excavators and 25 washing plants, but without proper licenses to legally operate in the country.
Information revealed to this paper is that, in June 2023 Feng “dubiously” obtained two Prospecting Licenses, PL10032423 and PL10032523, allegedly paying a staggering US$350,000 to officials of the ministry. The licenses are said to have overlapped the active exploration license of NEO Global Mines & Minerals Inc. in Belle Yallah Mining District, Gbarpolu County, which obtained its license on October 31, 2022 to operate in that particular area.
Because the Mineral and Mining Act of 2000 prohibits the issuance of a license for an area which already has a valid mining license, the ministry was in error due to the fact that NEO Global Mines and Minerals Inc. already had a valid license that runs from October 31, 2022 up to October 31, 2023. According to the Act, “Mining License shall not be issued with respect to any area that is already subject to a valid Mineral Right granted to another person.”
But the ministers at the ministry could not withhold granting Feng a license for that particular area, despite the Liberia Geological Survey’s vetting report, which warned about the overlapping situation and advised the ministry not to issue the licenses.
According to a Ministry of Mines source who spoke on the basis of anonymity, “All the former ministers at Mines and Energy were under Barry’s instructions because of the huge amounts of money he gave them. That’s why all Gao Feng’s clandestine deals are covered and secretly protected. He has used this leverage to build an illegal mining empire in Liberia that mines approximately US$50 million-worth of gold on a monthly basis.”
The source described Gao Feng as the “real minister” of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, claiming that the minister, his deputies and assistances were all under the influence of the Chinese businessman, and could do anything to make sure that he is happy and satisfied.
Meanwhile, based on information received, the Hot Pepper is officially launching an investigation into the matter.