The New Dawn (Monrovia)

21 March 2014

Liberia, Guinea Explore Mount Nimba Project

The governments of Liberia and Guinea have expressed optimism about prospects for the Mount Nimba project, a mining deal between the two countries. Full shipment of low-cost, high-grade ore from Mount Nimba is expected by 2015.

An Inter-Ministerial Concession Committee comprising the Ministers of Lands, Mines and Transport of both countries expressed the optimism Thursday 20 March in a press conference following a PowerPoint Presentation at the Royal Grand Hotel in Monrovia by West Africa Exploration, the company expected to exploit the Nimba Mine, bordering Liberia and Guinea.

On October 7, 2013 the Government of Guinea issued the export decree ostensibly authorizing the mining company to export iron-ore produced at its Nimba project through Liberia's second largest seaport in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.

Liberia was represented at the presentation by Lands, Mines and Energy Minister, Patrick Sendolo, Transport Minister Tornorlah Varpilah and National Investment Commission Chairman Michael Wotorson while Guinean Minister of Lands and Mines Kerfalla Yansane; and Minister of Transport Alli Diallo as well as the Ambassador of Guinea to Liberia, among others, were in attendance.

"What is necessary to make this deal works is close cooperation between Liberia and Guinea, including the minister of both countries", Liberia's Lands, Mines and Energy Minister Patrick Sendolo. He said the key thing now is the need to accelerate the project.

The WAE presentation constitutes a concrete further encapsulation and manifestation that would objectively enable the parties to conduct technical due diligence, third-party discussions and negotiations with a view to entering into a binding infrastructure development agreement for the development and usage of rail and port facilities inside Liberia to export iron ores from Guinea.

Thursday's presentation came barely four months after a landmark Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Liberia and West Africa Exploration to develop infrastructure for the Nimba iron-ore project in Southeast Guinea.

WAE Director General Chris Morris, put the cost of the investment at US$10 Hundred Million with 700 Million expected to go to Guinea and 300 Million for Liberia. Chris said the investment will provide employment for 840 inhabitants.

Guinean Minister of Lands and Mines, Kerfalla Yansane, speaking through an interpreter, said he is so far impressed with the presentation by the West Africa Exploration, but there was still long way to go regarding environmental studies.

He also stressed the need for collaboration and capacities building to enable youths from both countries have access to employment opportunities. Liberia's Transport Minister Tornorlah Varpilah said though the Yekepa-Buchanan rail is being used by ArcelorMittal, third parties will have access to the facilities.

"The Government of Liberia is working to institute measures that would regulate the rails in Liberia; we will work at details on how the rails are to be used, including scheduling of trains, boarding and exchange range", he added.

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