The government of Gambia has explained that the mining company Carnegie Minerals was closed down and its Managing Director arrested for alleged sharp practices.
The Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Crispin Grey Johnson, told a news conference here Thursday evening that the company had been illegally exporting three key minerals – Ilmenite, Rutile and Zircon – many years.
He said the company had exported large quantities of the minerals to the United Kingdom without the knowledge of the government.
The Secretary disclosed that the government’s investigations, which involved taking samples from the shipments at the sea port in Banjul and sending such for laboratory tests, showed the minerals were indeed Ilmenite, Rutile and Zircon.
He also said the company records showed it had exported 30,000 metric tons of mine sand to Australia through China, for which it (company) paid a paltry fee of US$50 per ton to the government.
The government official said before the company’s closure and the arrest of its boss, it was given enough opportunity to come clean on its operations.
On 15 January, President Yahya Jammeh gave the company a 24-hour ultimatum – which was later extended to 21 January – to tell the Gambian public the truth about its operations, the kind of minerals it was actually mining in the country and the quantity so far exported.