Iron ore mining in Liberia 

Responsible Mining in Liberia’s Nimba Mountains

The extraction of high-grade iron ore in the Liberian mountains​ could threaten healthy natural reserves and the well-being of local people.

© jbdodane/

Stretching a mile high, Mount Nimba lies at the intersection of Liberia, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire. For 40 kilometers (25 miles), the Nimba Mountain range alternates between forests, savannas, rivers and grassy pastures that support hundreds of species. The area also supplies fresh water, food and wood for fuel to the 500,000 people living in Nimba County.

It also holds substantial mineral wealth — and we don’t have to sacrifice n​ature to reap the benefits of this wealth. If carried out in harmony with conservation activities, mining in the Nimba Mountain range could provide the economic boost needed to propel Liberia toward prosperity.

Our role

Conservation International​ is working with steel giant ArcelorMittal to make sure that local communities share the economic benefits of mining activities and are also empowered to protect the natural resources they rely on. Through conservation agreements, we are engaging local communities to protect nature — and improve livelihoods for local people — around the East Nimba Nature Reserve.​

Our plan

Know the context

We have compiled critical biological and socioeconomic information about each of the communities we work with, learning how residents interact with nature, defining the potential conservation activities communities can undertake and identifying potential alternative livelihood investments.

Work from the ground up

The conservation agreements undertaken with local communities form the basis for community participation in co-managing the East Nimba Nature Reserve with the Forest Development Authority.

Look at the big picture

We work beyond the borders of protected areas to include areas of production by communities and the private sector. Conservation International is working to develop conservation agreements with local communities as a way to protect important habitat and promote sustainable jobs. We are working with local government to incorporate this program into the Nimba development agenda as a model for sustainable development across Liberia.

© CI/Bailey Evans

By the numbers

15,000 people

We are working with 15,000 people across three districts to implement conservation agreements that provide job opportunities, education and access to sustainable farming techniques.