Hopes for Liberia’s first diamond mine rise on general election

9th October 2017 By: Martin Creamer - Creamer Media Editor

Hopes for Liberia’s first diamond mine rise on general election

Stephen Haggerty (right) in studio with Martin Creamer
Photo by: Duane Daws

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – This year's discovery of two new additional diamond-bearing pipes that are satellites to an earlier-discovered main diamond-bearing kimberlite pipe have boosted hopes for the establishment of the first diamond mine in Liberia, where artisanal activity has been the mainstay of diamond recovery in the West African country since the 1930s and where a general election took place this week.

Downstream of the sizeable main kimberlite pipe, located in Liberia’s Camp Alpha region of Cape Mount County, artisanal miners have been operating with considerable success for many decades. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video).

Now, in addition to the main pipe, which is 500 m in length and 50 m in width, Florida International University distinguished research professor Stephen Haggerty has been successful in finding two more smaller-diameter satellite pipes, based on botanical recognition, which holds potential for the cost-effective uncovering of more kimberlite pipes going forward.

“Now we have three pipes…and everything looks very promising,” South African-born Haggerty told Mining Weekly Online of the prospect, which is close to Liberia’s first gold mine.

“If things really come together, it’ll be the first diamond mine in Liberia,” he added.

Still required is bulk sampling, which early monsoon weather has curtailed.

A major investment is now needed to complete the bulk sampling, but investors have been reluctant.

“It’s been very difficult to get anything substantial,” said Haggerty, adding that work to date has been funded by Youssef Diamond Mining Company, backed by US partners.

On the general election, Haggerty made the point that the outgoing president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first women head of state and Nobel Peace Prize winner, is handing over the reins after stabilisation in the wake of a 14-year period of internal civil strife until 2003.

“She has successfully built up the economy,” said Haggerty.

The latest Economist reports that it is still not clear who among the 20 candidates will succeed Sirleaf, whose Unity Party has been campaigning under the slogan of “continuity”.

The Unity Party candidate is Joseph Boakai, 72, who the publication describes as “Ms Sirleaf’s mild-mannered vice-president” seen by many as a safe and uncorrupt choice.

Another presidential candidate is famous footballer George Weah, who lost the election to Sirleaf in 2005 and who is now running on a platform of improving education, employment and health.

Haggerty highlighted the country’s precious minerals endowment as having the potential to add significant value to the Liberian economy.

His diamond success in Liberia follows years of intense exploration in the dense bush of north-western Liberia, where field observations show that the plant pandanus candelabrum has the potential to signpost kimberlite pipes.