Liberia - Mining & MineralsLiberia - Mining & Minerals
OverviewLiberia has rich mineral deposits and historically, mineral extraction--particularly of iron ore, gold and diamonds--has been one of the leading export sectors for the country. The major minerals are mainly exported in a raw or semi-finished form. In addition to large iron ore deposits, there are substantial diamond and gold deposits as well as indications of manganese, bauxite, uranium, zinc, and lead deposits. Diamond deposits, primarily exploited via alluvial and artisanal diamond mining, are widespread in most parts of the country. The government issues Kimberly Process (KP) Origin Certificates, which enable the legal export of rough diamonds to other KP member countries. Iron ore mining plays a significant role in the Liberian economy and accounted for 16 percent of total export earnings in 2017. A number of large-scale international companies hold mineral development agreements (MDAs) for iron ore mining operations in Liberia, but the largest such operations are owned by ArcelorMittal, which is has invested heavily into the sector. This world’s leading steel and mining company has both iron ore and metallurgical coal reserves in the Mount Nimba range in northern Liberia. Their multi-billion dollar mineral investments include building railways, roads, ports, electrical plants, housing facilities for workers, and other critical physical infrastructure. Low global iron ore prices have reduced Liberia’s production and exports over the last few years as multinational iron ore companies around the world significantly scaled down their operations. However, ArcelorMittal continues mining Mount Gangra, one of the virgin mountains within its concession area. The company is moving ore extraction from its depleting direct shipping ore (DSO) deposit at its Tokadeh Mines to the nearby, low strip ratio and higher-grade DSO deposit at Gangra.
Artisanal mining, predominantly of gold and diamonds, takes place in parts of Liberia. Artisanal mining--traditionally carried out primarily by unlicensed and illegal miners--contributes to the country’s economy through royalties and taxes paid by licensed dealers. A minority of artisanal miners hold small-scale mining licenses. Some of the most lucrative mines are located in remote and inaccessible areas in forest regions, and the government lacks the necessary resources or capacity to monitor mining activities. The Ministry of Mines and Energy began an initiative a few years ago aimed at formalizing the artisanal and small scale mining (ASM) sector. Its primary objective is to encourage artisanal miners to organize their mining activities through cooperatives that would attract foreign investors into the sector. Recently, some publicly traded companies such as Hummingbird Resources and Aureus have invested heavily in exploration in the sector. In June 2018, the legislature ratified a Mining Development Agreement for Hummingbird Resources. Aureus Mining (now Avesoro Resources) continues to develop Liberia’s first and largest commercial gold mine, New Liberty. Full commercial production at New Liberty began in March 2016. Avesoro Resource expects production from its New Liberty gold mine to rise to between 90,000 and 100,000 ounces. In the mining sector as a whole, land disputes and overlapping mining claims have become one of the critical concerns.
Gold Productions and Exports (Ounces & Constant Prices in Millions of USD)
|Total Local Production (Ounce)||9,466||151,224||204,355|
|Total Exports Volume (000/Ounce)||29.1||129.6||202.2|
|Total Exports Value (Million USD)||26.6||116.4||187.5|
Iron Ore Production and Exports (Metric tons & Constant Prices in Millions of USD)
|Total Local Production (Mt.)||4,529,531||1,405,195||1,934,193|
|Total Exports Volume (000/Mt)||5,553||1,405.20||2,024.40|
|Total Exports Value (Million USD)||141.8||48.2||63.3|
Diamond Production and Exports (Carats & Constant Prices in Millions of USD)
|Total Local Production (Carat)||65,996||60,367||59,951|
|Total Exports Volume (000/Crt)||61.1||60.9||58.6|
|Total Exports Value (Million USD)||26.8||28.7||32.8|
Leading Sub-SectorsIndustrial mining operations have significant demand for plants and equipment, construction, and core services. The sub-sectors in which U.S. companies would have the best prospects include geological and exploration services, analysis and testing, supply chain services, environmental services, feasibility, design and engineering services, construction, contract mining, equipment and plant maintenance and repair, equipment rental, drilling equipment and services, electronic equipment and supplies, and spare parts for mining equipment. There are also sales prospects for mining consumables such as explosives and accessories, chemicals, reagents, grinding media, fuel and lubricants, tires, replacement parts and ground engagement tools, water service, and telecommunications. The huge energy needs for mining concessions and neighboring communities create opportunities for investment in renewable energy production, especially solar.
OpportunitiesThere is a growing demand for technical, geological, and engineering services, and for specialized mining machines and equipment. A number of ongoing reconnaissance and exploration activities are expected to create several downstream economic activities in communities that are on the periphery of the exploration sites. Public tenders for concession agreements could be offered. Interested parties may wish to inquire about opportunities directly at the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
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Liberia Energy Trade Development and Promotion