News about a US$250 million railway expansion investment by American exploration giant, High Power Exploration, HPX was greeted by reverberating cheers in Nimba County -one of the three counties expected to benefit from the mega project with a potential employment package of more than 800,000 citizens.
The disclosure about the investment was made during a gathering of more than 500 elders in Gboplay by Mr. Reginald Mehn, Nimba County Inspector and National Coordinator for Concession and Conflict Resolution at the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Mr. Mehn said contrary to speculations that no investor wants to come to Liberia, HPX is packaging a mega project that will provide jobs and other economic opportunities to over 800,000 people in a multiuser deal that would include Guinea.
As the information was released, the chiefs and elders responded with a deafening cheers and applause.
According to the Nimba County official, when the deal is consummated with all the due diligence, it would bring great relief to Liberians especially the young people who are unemployed.
A Liberia-Guinea multi-user infrastructure corridor has the potential to transform the mineral-rich Nimba region, and for projects along the railway in Liberia, stimulating further economic activity in mining, but also agriculture, manufacturing, health, education and improve the quality of life for the 800,000 people living in the region.
Following the signature of a framework agreement in 2019, HPX is working with the Liberian Government to agree infrastructure access for the existing rail line that runs from the Guinean-Liberia border at Yekapa to the existing Buchanan port facilities.
HPX is planning to commence operation in 2025 depending on reaching an agreement with the Government of Liberia over rail and port access arrangements, for which it has pre-paid the Government US$37 million in fees in a sign of good faith.
As the project ramps up from its commencement phase of 2 million tonnes of iron ore per year transported through Liberia to its planned maximum capacity of 30 million tonnes, it is expected that significant fees and charges would be paid by HPX to the Liberian government for rail and port access.
The project seeks to mine approximately 450 million tonnes of ore across 15-25 years, depending on the rate of production.
“We are more than a mine: the Nimba Iron Ore Project will surprise the world with technological innovation, healthy ecosystems and prosperous communities, while greatly benefiting the people of Guinea & Liberia,” Ivanhoe Liberia, a subsidiary of HPX.
The company’s progress comes on the strength of an agreement between the government’s of Guinea and Liberia to allow the miner to use Liberia’s rail infrastructure from Yekepa to the Port of Buchanan for export. In Liberia, HPX and Ivanhoe will invest US$600 million in upgrades to the rail and port infrastructure to facilitate its export operations.
Recently, HPX Chief Executive Officer Bronwyn Barnes commented: “The proposed Liberia – Guinea Corridor is the shortest and most direct export and import route from the iron-rich Nimba district to the seaborne international market, which provides superior logistics and significantly lower carbon emissions than the alternative transport routes.
National Railway Authority (NRA) with responsibility to manage railway and associated
infrastructures owned by the Government of Liberia.
“The U.S. Government’s consideration of the potential for the Liberia – Guinea Corridor is extremely encouraging. This project has the potential to transform the mineral-rich Nimba region, and for projects along the railway in Liberia, stimulating further economic activity in mining, but also agriculture, manufacturing, health, education and improve the quality of life for the citizens of both countries.”