21 March 2014

Liberia: President Sirleaf Meets with High-Level 12-Member Guinean Delegation; Briefed on Mount Nimba Project

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has reassured her Guinean counterpart, President Alpha Condé that the Liberian Government will adhere the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the two countries for the export of Guinean iron ore through Liberia’s port. “Our commitment is firm,” she said.

Last year, the Governments of Liberia and Guinea signed a MOU that will allow the export of iron ore produced at its Nimba project in Guinea through Liberia’s seaport in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County. West Africa Exploration SA (WAE) is expected to undertake the project.

According to an Executive Mansion release, the Liberian leader made the remarks when a visiting 12-member high-level Guinean delegation paid her a courtesy call at her Foreign Ministry office on Thursday, March 20.

The Guinean delegation was in Liberia to make a formal presentation to the Inter-Ministerial Concession Committee (IMCC) on how WAE expects to proceed with the project.

During the meeting, President Sirleaf expressed her delight at the visit of the Guinean delegation here to embark on the technical details of the process. She encouraged them to develop a work plan and a roadmap that is time bound. “We know that there will be reasons for negotiations back and forth during the discussions; but the sooner that you tackle it, the sooner we can find solutions to those problems,” she emphasized.

The Liberian President pointed out that countries in the sub-region, particularly the Mano River Union, are very anxious for transformation as the overall population are younger, official development assistance is declining, and global competition is more intense today. “Unless we are able to put our own natural resources to work in a very effective, transparent and resulting way, we will not be able to achieve our transformative goals,” President Sirleaf warned.

She pointed out that this project being undertaken by the two countries is a major collaborative effort and hoped that during the discussions everything will be detailed and time bound.

President Sirleaf then mandated the Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy, Mr. Patrick Sendolo to work with the delegation to ensure that the project is realized.

Earlier, the Minister of State for Mines and Geology, and head of the Guinean delegation, Kerfalla Yansané, extended warm greetings and felicitation to the Liberian President from her brother and colleague, President Alpha Condé.

He later briefed her on the meeting with Liberia’s Inter-Ministerial Concession Committee which is intended to conduct technical diligence, third party discussions and negotiations with the view to entering into a binding infrastructure development agreement for the development and usage of rail and port facilities in Liberia to export their iron ore.

Minister Yansané said the power point presentation made earlier in the day came barely four months after the MOU was signed between the Liberian Government and WAE to develop infrastructure for the Nimba iron ore project.

“Let me say, technically, the project is on track; but there’s still much work to be done to finalize it,” Mr. Yansané said. Some of the sticky issues that are being discussed include securing space in Yekepa, Nimba County and at the Port of Buchanan; third-party use of the railway, securing the environment along the corridor and ensuring that endangered species are not harmed by the project, among others.

WAE Chief Executive Officer Sampil put the cost of the investment of US$10 hundred million with US$700 Million expected to go to Guinea and US$300 Million for Liberia. He said the investment will provide employment for nearly 1,000 Liberians.

The 12-member Guinean delegation was headed by the Minister of State for Mines and Geology, Mr. Kerfalla Yansané; and included the Minister of Transport, Mr. Aliu Diallo; and the Chief Executive Officer of West Africa Exploration (WAE), Mr. Abubakar Sampil; among others,

Accompanying the Guinean delegation to President Sirleaf’s office were Lands, Mines and Energy Minister, Patrick Sendolo; Transport Minister, Tornorlah Varpilah; National Investment Commission Chairman, Michael Wortorson; and a Consultant, Frank Tolbert.

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