Locals in Liberia Feel Negative Effects of Mine Extraction, Underdevelopment

Written by Makula Dunbar

From Providence Journal

The road to the China Union iron-ore mine, Liberia’s largest natural resource concession of the postwar era, is a bumpy dirt track running nearly 20 miles due north from this junction town, at a point where rolling plateaus gradually transition to hills and low mountains.

The company, owned by Wuhan Iron and Steel, one of China’s largest steel makers, says it has spent nearly $20 million improving the road.

But local Liberians question where the money went. Like many roads in rural Liberia, it is narrow at parts and pocked with deep ruts that force drivers to veer suddenly or risk damage to their vehicles.

“It’s not possible,” says Bobby Wilson, a former mine worker, as he ate at a restaurant near the road’s start in Kakata in August. “Just look at the road.”

Wilson says fixing the road is among the many promises China Union has not kept since reaching a historic, $2.6-billion agreement with the Liberian government in 2009. “We are still waiting for the benefit to be felt,” he said.

Rhode Island native Ashoka Mukpo, a researcher for the Sustainable Development Institute, a Liberia-based nonprofit organization, says addressing local concerns about mining and other natural-resource extraction operations is critical for the nation’s security.

Read more at providencejournal.com