Liberia - Country Commercial Guide
Mining and Minerals

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-10-16

Overview

Liberia has rich mineral deposits.  Historically, mineral extraction – particularly of iron ore, gold, and diamonds – has been a leading export sector.  The major minerals are exported mainly in raw or semi-finished forms.  Manganese, bauxite, uranium, zinc, and lead deposits are also present.  Diamond deposits, primarily exploited via alluvial and artisanal diamond mining, are widespread throughout the country.  The government issues Kimberly Process (KP) Origin Certificates, which enable the legal export of rough diamonds to other KP member countries.  With gradual recovery in global iron ore prices, iron ore mining plays a significant role in the economy, accounting for more than 47 percent of total export earnings in 2020.  ArcelorMittal, which has invested heavily in the sector, has both iron ore and metallurgical coal reserves in the Mount Nimba range.  ArcelorMittal is the only large-scale international company currently engaged in iron ore mining operations and its multi-billion-dollar mineral investments include restoration and operation of the 243-kilometer rail line connecting its Tokadeh mine in northern Liberia to the Port of Buchanan, as well as roads, electrical plants, housing facilities for workers, and other critical physical infrastructure.  ArcelorMittal produces and exports iron ore to customers in Europe and Asia and is pursuing the expansion of its operations in Liberia.

Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), predominantly of gold and diamonds, takes place in many parts of Liberia.  This is primarily by unlicensed and illegal miners, but it contributes to the country’s economy through royalties and taxes paid by licensed dealers.  A minority of artisanal miners hold small scale mining licenses.  In the mining sector, land disputes and overlapping mining claims are critical concerns.  Some of the most lucrative mines are in remote and inaccessible forest regions, and the government lacks the resources or capacity to monitor mining activities or enforce mining laws and regulations.  In 2016, the Ministry of Mines and Energy developed a roadmap to regulate artisanal and small-scale miners to encourage them to organize into cooperatives, which could improve working conditions and attract foreign investment.  The ministry commenced implementation of the roadmap in October 2020.  It has rolled out training programs for mining agents and mineral inspectors and is collaborating with the National Identification Registry (NIR) to issue ASM ID cards to miners across the country.  The effort involves local authorities, law enforcement, communities, mining cooperatives, and individual miners, but has been slow to roll out.  Since 2013, some publicly traded companies such as Hummingbird Resources and Avesoro Resources (formerly Aureus Mining) have invested heavily in exploration and feasibility assessments in the sector.  In March 2019, the legislature ratified a 25-year Mining Development Agreement (MDA) for Hummingbird Resources, with the option to extend by mutual consent and a framework for further exploration, mine development, and production.  Avesoro Resources continues to develop Liberia’s first and largest commercial gold mine, New Liberty.  The Central Bank of Liberia reported a reduction in the production of gold and diamond in 2020 due to disruption in mining activities because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Table 1: Iron ore production and exports in metric tons (Mt) and constant prices in millions USD

Iron Ore

2018

2019*

2020**

Total Local Production (Mt.)

4,657,155

4,428,645

4,874,409

Total Exports Value (Million USD)

145

234.5

289

Source: Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), 2020 Annual Report, Page 33 & 48

+ Revised/Actual

** Projection

Table 2: Gold Production and exports in ounces and constant prices in millions USD

 Gold

 

2018

2019*

2020**

Total Local Production (Ounce)

234,354

162,936

141,342

Total Exports Value (Million USD)

NA

164.3

194.4

Source: Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), 2020 Annual Report, Page 33 & 51

+ Revised/Actual

** Projection

Table 3: Diamond Production and Exports in carats and constant prices in millions USD

 Diamond

 

2018

2019*

2020**

Total Local Production (Carat)

75,554

55,936

54,599

Total Exports Value (Million USD)

NA

16.1

12.2

Source: Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), 2020 Annual Report, Page 33

+ Revised/Actual

** Projection

Leading Sub-Sectors

Leading sub-sectors in which U.S. companies could have commercial opportunity includes supply and repair of mining equipment; mining construction; and mining consultation services. 

Opportunities

Areas of opportunity include technical, geological, and engineering services, and specialized mining machines and equipment.  Ongoing reconnaissance and exploration activities could create downstream economic activities in communities that are near exploration sites. 
Resources

  • Ministry of Mines and Energy
  • ArcelorMittal
  • Hummingbird Resources
  • Avesoro Resources
  • Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC)
  • Liberia Chamber of Commerce (LCC)