Monrovia — Liberia stands to reap economic benefits from the iron ore mining operations of West Africa Exploration SA (WAE) in Guinea, which is supposed to employ 500 Liberians. WAE is a joint venture between Sable Mining Africa and its Guinean based partner; Nimba Mining.
The mining will be staged with a proof of concept (POC) operation commencing in the initial three years at an iron ore mining rate of two million tons per annual based on selective mining and Direct Shipping Ore (DSO) dry plant processing.
After the initial three years, a 10-million-ton per annual mining operation will commence utilizing wet processing and gravity beneficiation. The anticipated three-year POC mining is intended to provide operational and marketing confidence and to allow for infrastructure construction prior to the ramp up to full production at 10-million-ton per annual.
Accordingly, WAE, which will operate in the Nimba Mountain of the Guinea corridor, will export its materials through the Port of Buchanan in Grand Bassa County. The Port of Buchanan is the second largest seaport in Liberia.
Buchanan evidently became an option after engineering studies revealed that getting a rail up and running from for the project was not realistically tenable considering the herculean task of meandering huge rail construction works through valleys, gorges, cliffs, mountains, etc. Alternatively, the Port of Buchanan provides a technically acceptable and rational engineering basis as far as proximity is concerned for the Nimba Iron Ore Project realization.
The company is expected to make its first shipment of iron ore next year (2014).
As a kick-off to the process, grand ceremony was held last week at the Hotel Palm Camayenne in Guinea.
In President Conde's Pan-Africanist framework and doctrine - he sought to prioritize an African investment initiative in the development of his country's mineral sector.
Addressing the delegation from Liberia, investors and the Guinean Technical team, President Conde said while Guinea and Liberia were happy to welcome and promote Pan-African entrepreneurship - he challenged West Africa Exploration to scrupulously conduct its operations.
The president however, emphasized the ardent need to ensure all parties mutually benefit. He said he was eager to see benefits for the peoples of Guinea and Liberia in terms of corporate social responsibility, employment opportunities and effective development partners.
He also called on West Africa exploration to expedite it activities in order to bring to bear immediate impact on the people. In response, the Chief executive officer of West Africa Exploration S.A., Mr. Andrew Groves assured President Conde, the Liberian delegation and the peoples of both countries that the company was prepared to adopt a "sprint approach" that will fast-track the project implementation.
The Guinean number one man said Guinea was willing to learn from Liberia's experiences in the negotiation of concessions owing to Liberia's vast expertise over the last couple of years in tacitly handling such deals.
The Liberia delegation led by Senate Pro-Temp Gbezongar Findley conveyed to President Conde a special message of best wishes from his Liberian counterpart, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
Members of the Liberian delegation also included: Transport Minister Mr. S. Tornolah Varpilah, Youth and Sport Minister Mr. Len Eugene Nagbe, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Concession Armah Zulu Jallah, National Security Agency (NSA) boss Mr. Fomba Sirleaf and the Director-General of the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority (LCAA).
Senator Findley said Liberia was open to do business with any investor in whom Guinea has exclusive confidence.
He stressed the need for mutual benefit and a win-win situation for our respective countries and investors as well.
Interestingly, Senator Findley hails from Grand Bassa County; a region that is expected to provide outlet for the shipment of West Africa Exploration iron ore to the outside world.