Liberia: 'One-Sided Agreement Signed By Previous Governments Hurting Liberia's Development' - Former Mines & Energy Minister

Monrovia — Liberia's former Mines & Energy Minister, Jonathan Mason, has called for the proper management of the country's resources in order to benefit every citizen.

Mr. Mason is worried that for too long the country's resources have been mismanaged, stressing that it is now time that proceeds generated from the sale of mineral resources are used to transform the country and its people.

He observed that despite the abundance of resources, Liberia remains backward in terms of development.

He made these assertions recently in an exclusive interview with FrontPage Africa at the Millennuim Hotel in Congo Town.

Mr. Mason pointed out that over the years agreements signed by past governments for the sale of Liberia's resources have been 'one-sided'.

He disclosed that these challenges prevail because Liberia has not been able to manage its own natural resources.

"The only mineral resource that we mine up 40% is the iron ore. Other minerals like gold, diamond, bauxite have just been there. I am always embarrassed by people asking the question of why Liberia has abundant resources but the country is under-developed," said Mr. Mason.

"But the thing is: we have not started to do full-scale mining and manage our resources properly. It has not been managed properly. Some of the agreements we made with international partners were one-sided. Look at our road structures or facilities."

Meanwhile, Mr. Mason further underscored the need for the coding and grading of Liberia's natural resources.

He noted that the lack of coding or grading of natural resources extracted from Liberia will adversely contribute to investors purchasing minerals at a lower rate.

The former Liberian Mines and Energy Minister added that unless the qualities of these minerals are graded and priced, citizens would not adequately benefit.

"We need to codify our mineral resources so that when investors come we can have better information to give them and we should begin to appreciate what resources we have. For example, someone tells you that they come to buy diamond and we don't know the grade of diamond and we just give them a contract to go and mine diamond. They buy from us for US$5 and sell for US$50. So we have to know the grade and quality of the resources that we have so we can begin to benefit from it," he explained.

"It's about time now that we begin to go away from these things and do things in good fate. The government of Liberia should sit down with her partners and discuss these things and see how best they can come out with a concrete agreement to be beneficiary to the country and our partners in progress".

Mr. Mason, however, underscored the need for government to see reason to invest in its own extractives sector.

"All of us need to understand the nature of our natural resources. The mining sector is very expensive; It's cost intensive. The point this country is at right now, we don't have the initial capital. We always like to go outside; when we have the capital, we would start mining our own resources and we will benefit from it," he said.

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