Mining in Liberia gets New Life
Updated: Apr 3
The African continent is renowned for its mining, and now Liberia is poised to join the ranks of its strongest mining countries.
Traditionally, mining has served as a strong source of income for the Liberian economy. Liberia is a country rich in mineral deposits, such as iron ore, gold, and diamonds. It is estimated that Liberia holds reserves of two to five billion metric tons of iron ore and three million ounces of gold, but yet its land is still largely unexplored. Natural resources have historically been the basis of the Liberian economy and its people, but the sector took a large hit during its civil war. Mining, as a result, became virtually non-existent, as much of its productive infrastructure was destroyed. In 2003, once the nearly 14-year long civil war had concluded, the mining sector began to pick up yet again. The Liberian government made a concerted effort to reconstruct the country’s once-great standing by leveraging its natural resources to attract massive foreign investment and creating jobs. The government had also put in place a legal framework to ensure the sustainable and conservative use of natural resources.
Recently, the mining sector has experienced a growth in popularity. In 2016, nearly 30% of the country’s total export earnings came from the mining sector. There are currently 1293 mining operations throughout the country, from artisanal and small-scale mining, medium size mining, and exploration companies to large-scale enterprises. Sinoe County, in particular, holds the most potential for gold in Liberia, according to the Ministry of Lands, Mine, and Energy. The country holds much mining potential in its other natural minerals, such as phosphates, zinc, copper, nickel, tanzanite, and uranium. Liberia is home to large artisanal mining activities, with 194 active artisanal mining license holders.
There are several large-scale iron ore mining operations by international company Arcelor Mittal, which is invested heavily in the sector. Arcelor Mittal, one the largest iron ore producers in the world, has both iron ore and metallurgical coal reserves in the Mount Nimba range in northern Liberia. Much of the multi-billion dollar mineral investments include rebuilding railways, roads, ports, electrical plants, housing facilities for workers, and other critical physical infrastructure. Turkish-owned Gold Exploration Mining Company, MNG Gold-Liberia, is at the verge of intensifying its exploration exercises in the country, bringing in high-tech exploratory equipment worth over US$3 million. Recently, Liberia’s first diamond mine has begun development, under the vision of Stephan Haggerty. Haggerty believes that the county’s precious minerals endowment could add significant value to the Liberian economy. This recent growth has much potential in strengthening the Liberian economy, as well as job creation and infrastructure development.
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