Lessons from foreign investments in Liberia

Improvement of the concession policy

  1. Natural resources should be exploited economically.


In the iron ore mining sector another gap needs to be filled. Reference has already been made as to the necessity of the Liberian Government effectively controlling the natural resources of its country. Iron ore mining agreements should include a clause which guarantees a 'balanced exploitation'. It should be required that both high grade ore (hematite, 68 percent ferrous content) and low grade ore (itabirite, 35 to 45 percent ferrous content) be extracted. Of course, such a requirement should not conflict with a rational exploitation of the natural resources or with the outcome of a feasibility study. This recommendation directly applies to the operations of the LAMCO JV.

Mining operations of the Big Four (LMC, NIOC, LAMCO and BMC) greatly differed mainly as a result of the difference in Fe-content of the ore. The ore mined by LMC and LAMCO was almost pure iron ore and needed no up-grading. LAMCO has even been called a transportation company (!) rather than a mining company as its activities (prior to the installation of a pelletizing plant)  were virtually limited to the blasting of rocks which form the Nimba Mountain, and the hauling, crushing and transportation of the ore thus produced to the port of Buchanan where the ships were waiting to receive the ore. The process of transporting the ore from the Nimba mountains to the ships was fully mechanized. The pelletizing plant which LAMCO operated since 1966 produced pellets (small 'balls' of approximately ˝ inch in diameter which could be fed directly to blast furnaces) from hematite ore with a Fe-content of 64-66%.

BMC’s pelletizing plant, on the other hand, treated itabirite ore with an average Fe-content of only 38.7% and which was first upgraded in a concentrator to 63.5. The difference in character of the operations of the two mining companies is clearly demonstrated by LAMCO’s policy to discard ore with an Fe-content of less than 45%.

In other words, the ore of the Nimba mountains was so rich in iron content that LAMCO wasted ore with an Fe-content (iron content) of less than 45% whereas the Bong Mining Company exploited ore with an iron content of 38%)

Malpractices and abuses also exist in the timber sector. By definition illegal harvesting of timber is unacceptable. In case this is done by companies holding legal concession agreements, these foreign companies should be exemplarily dealt with to make clear the Government’s determination to 'clean' this sector of the national economy.

This also applies to illegal mining operations, notably those involving gold and diamonds. Each year Government is deprived of considerable revenue when these valuable commodities leave the country uncontrolled.


  1. Local lumber processing obligations and reforestation regulations should be enforced.








Improvement of
concession policy



© fpm van der kraaij