MONROVIA, Nov 20 (Reuters) – Liberian President-elect Joseph Boakai, who defeated President George Weah in the Nov. 14 presidential runoff, says his administration will take a close look at mining concessions to ensure they benefit the country.
Boakai, 78, a former vice president who lost to Weah in the 2017 runoff and campaigned on a promise to “rescue” Liberia, told Reuters in an interview on Sunday evening that he expected a lot of challenges, particularly with the economy.
“The first step of rescuing Liberia is taking it from these people. It has been rescued. The next thing is to deal with the issues that have being hanging over this country,” Boakai said, citing corruption and lack of basic services.
Boakai said a key area from which Liberians had not benefited was the mining sector, despite the West African country’s rich mineral reserves, including diamonds, gold, iron ore and timber.
“To be frank with you, the mining sector has been one of the problems in this country. I have seen our resources exploited and the life of the people remains the worse,” Boakai said, adding that he would take a close look at the sector.
Asked if this would include reviewing mining concessions, Boakai said reviews would be pursued if warranted.
“We have to, because we are inheriting,” he said.
Several companies operate in Liberia’s mining sector, including ArcelorMittal and Bao Chico Resources in iron ore mining concessions, Bea Mountain Mining and Avesoro Resources, which operates Liberia’s first commercial gold mine in gold.
Liberia’s economy grew 4.8% in 2022, driven by gold production and a relatively good rice harvest, but more than 80% of the population still face moderate or severe food insecurity, according to the World Bank.