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Friday, January 23, 2009

Liberia signs 2.6 billion dollar mining deal with China

MONROVIA (AFP) — Liberia signed Thursday a 2.6 billion dollar agreement with Chinese conglomerate China Union to develop its main iron ore mine, the biggest ever investment in the West African nation.

A government statement said President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signed a mineral development agreement with officials from the Chinese mining company to develop the Bong Mines.

Sirleaf invited other Chinese companies to come and invest in the country, which emerged from a crippling 14-year civil war in 2003.

"The Liberian leader expressed the hope that the signing of the agreement will serve as a motivation to other Chinese companies to invest in Liberia," the statement said.

The deal has been sent to the parliament for ratification.

Liberia's Investment Minister Richard Tolbert announced in December that a deal was in the making with the Chinese mining giant, greeting it as the country's biggest ever investment.

He said China Union had promised that within 12 months it will have built a one-million-tonne-a-year capacity refining factory at the Bong iron mines, about 150 kilometers (95 miles) north of Monrovia.

He said 3,000 jobs would be created by the project with up to 15,000 following indirectly.

Before Liberia's 1989-2003 civil war, mines were run by a German concern, the Bong Mining Company. But it was criticised for not carrying out development projects in the region.

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