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Gold and Diamond Mining:
1930: The recording of gold mining starts


Recorded gold mining operations in this area started in the late 1930’s. In 1941, local people concentrated the mining of gold in an area south-west of the town of Zwedru, in those days still called Tchien, Grand Gedeh county, but the increased interest in diamonds after the discovery of important diamond deposits along the Lofa river, in the 1950s, and the resulting 'diamond rush' brought gold mining activities virtually to a stand-still. Only with the increase in the price of gold in the 1970s was renewed interest shown by various investors.

There are other sources reporting or indicating the failure of a start of the mining operations, in particular of gold, in the first half of the twentieth century in Liberia. In 1933 President Edwin. J. Barclay granted the Dutch 'Holland Syndicate' (whose major financier was 'Wm.H. Muller and company') the sole prospecting rights in the country as well as an option on 50,000 acres (to be selected by the concessionaire).

The Dutch concentrated their surveys on the Western part of the country, hoping to locate gold and diamond deposits in view of the recent discoveries and subsequent exploitation of diamonds in neighboring Sierra Leone, near Pendembu. It was during this search for diamonds and gold that the high-grade iron ore reserves of Bomi Hills were discovered by one of the Dutch explorers (1).

Whether the 'Holland Syndicate' ever found and extracted gold or diamonds is unknown, as no record exists of the minerals possibly extracted and exported. Though export of gold did take place during the 19th century and in the first quarter of the 20th century, the gold industry figured in export statistics for the first time in 1935, to the amount of $22,700 (2). Most, if not all of this, had been produced by small Liberian miners.

Gold is found in nearly every county of the republic although in limited quantities: only in Nimba County no deposits were located so far but gold is expected to occur here too, primarily because one of the country’s most important diamond 'fields' lies in this northern county, and because gold and diamonds are often found in adjacent or mixed areas.

(1) W.F.C. Engelbert van Bevervoorde, "Het Bomi-Hill IJzererts voorkomen, Liberia" (1946).


(2) Nete-Sie Brownell, "Statement made at the Executive Mansion On Independence Day", July 26, 1943, Monrovia. In: Louis Arthur Grimes Collection, University of Liberia Library.
It is not known whether the valuable Louis Arthur Grimes Collection survived the civil war.





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