Liberia: National Investment Commission Wants Old Mining Companies to Come Back - Encourages New Ones to Invest Sector

Monrovia — The Government of Liberia is exerting all efforts to resuscitate mining projects that are currently dormant in hopes of capitalizing on the new improvements in the prices of primary commodities on the global market, particularly gold and iron ore.

The government, through the National Investment Commission (NIC), wants mining companies that have slowed down their operations to resume active operations in the country.

NIC Chairman, Molewuleh B. Gray, said the government is committed to work with companies in the mining sector, especially those whose operations were slowed down by the slumping price of iron ore.

The NIC boss spoke at the Liberia Chambers of Commerce business luncheon in Monrovia on Tuesday.

"We expect that China Union, Bao Chico, Putu Iron Ore Mines, Jonah Capital (formerly BHP Billiton), etc. will recommence immediate operations due to the rebound in the prices of commodities," he said.

"Iron Ore price today on the world market stands at US$179 and projected to grow up to US$200 by the 1st quarter of next year," Gray said.

Mr. Gray described the relationship between the Government of Liberia and the private sector as a symbiotic.

"The Government is aware of the mutualism of this relationship as the private sector is the engine of growth and the wellbeing of the private sector is a barometer of the wellbeing of the economy," he said.

He said mining has played an important role in the development of the Liberian economy.

He said "A rich mineral resource base, primarily consisting of iron ore, gold, and diamonds, saw the mining sector contribute a lion's share of exports and government export revenues in pre-conflict Liberia," he noted.

He said as the mining sector develops so will Liberia's economy.

He said the gross domestic product (GDP) doubled from 1970 to 1980 with growth rates averaging 22% per year.

Mining companies improved the country's infrastructure, constructed education and health facilities and offered employment opportunities.

"LAMCO's operations in Nimba Mountains, transformed Yekepa from a rural village in northern Liberia into a town with access to a supermarket, tennis courts, golf course, swimming pool, movie theatre, community center, police station, hospital, pubs, and discos," he said.

He said the profitability of a mining project is dependent on commodity prices and production cost. "Generally, production costs increase throughout the life of the mine as more effort is needed to reach the deposit. When production costs exceed the commodity price, the project is no longer viable," he noted.

He then called for a cohesive relationship between the government of Liberia and the business community.

Speaking earlier at the program, the President of the Liberia Chambers of Commerce, Cllr. N. Oswald Tweh pledged the chambers' commitment in making the business environment conducive for all businesses operating in the country.

He said the Chambers stands ready to assist government in every way possible to improve the business sector.

He called on investors wanting to invest in Liberia to come, saying, "Liberia is safe for business, you can come and do business here we are open to all investors."

He said the Liberia Chambers of Commerce is for the people of Liberia and its role is to advocate on the business community's behalf. "We stand ready to continue our advocacy for the business sector in Liberia and create that enabling environment for investors."

For his part, UNDP Resident Coordinator, Niels Scott said, "We will continue to support the process of business development in Liberia and the Chambers of Commerce should stand ready to create the necessary environment for that."

Also speaking, Lebanese Ambassador to Liberia, Henri Kastoun said his country's support to the business climate in Liberia cannot be overemphasized. He pledged his commitment in making Liberia attractive for business.

"We are here to show strong support to the business sector in Liberia. I bring a very strong message of support to the chambers of commerce and the government of Liberia," he said.

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