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China’s multi-billion-dollar investment in Liberia

Richard Tolbert,
Chairman, National
Investment Commission
Monrovia, Liberia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 30 December 2008 – A Chinese company is scheduled to make the biggest ever investment in Liberia in January when it signs a US$2.6 billion (R25 billion) iron ore deal.

Reuters reports from here that the 25-year project – to be undertaken by China Union – will directly and indirectly create 18 000 new jobs, and will give Liberia an immediate cash boost of US$40 million (R380 million) on signature.

“This is the biggest investment in our country’s history,” National Investment Commission chairman Richard Tolbert told Reuters. The deal, which beat nine rival bids, will trump the world’s largest steelmaker, ArcelorMittal, which is spending US$1.5 billion (R14.5 billion) in Liberia, also on iron ore.

Many firms have scaled back or postponed African mining projects as metals prices have crashed in the past six months, and most analysts believe a severe global recession will cut demand for industrial minerals for years to come.

Tolbert said the timing of the Chinese investment was a vote of confidence in Liberia. “In the midst of the global financial crisis, this is really a significant sign of the attractiveness of Liberia,” Tolbert added.

China Union intends to bring the Bong deposit – to the north-west of capital, Monrovia – to production within two years, and will also re-condition the capital’s port and build a hydro power plant to supply the city, according to Tolbert. He did not give details of the overall size of the Bong deposit.