MAC: Mines and Communities

Tata's triumph bodes ill for mountain of wealth

Published by MAC on 2007-12-14

Tata's triumph bodes ill for mountain of wealth

14th December 2007

by Nostromo Research

In the teeth of stiff competition from other big steel companies - including Essar, Mittal and BHPBilliton- India’s Tata Steel announced last week that is now partnered with the Ivory Coast government, to mine part of the Mount Nimba iron ore range in West Africa.

However, excavating the mountain is almost certain to compound an already serious African social and environmental disaster.

The announcement came just ten days after Tata gained a 40% stake in output of coking coal (used in steel foundries) from a major mine in Mozambique .

It doesn't take much intelligence to guess the motives behind Tata's minerals "rush" - one shrouded in blood since the infamous "Kalinganagar massacre" of January 2006 when the company attempted to inaugurate a steel plant in Orissa. Local protestors were fired upon by police, leaving 12 villagers and one policeman dead.

Earlier this year, Tata also grabbed the UK-Dutch steelmaker, Corus, soon after forging an agreement with Italy's Fiat, to churn out cheap vehicles from the Singur special economic zone (SEZ) on land forcibly seized from farmers in West Bengal.

India’s flagship multinational believes there just isn't enough iron ore or coking coke left in India to suit its global designs. The company is confronting mounting competition, both for raw resources within the country (South Korea's POSCO is hot on its heels), and in the consumer market. For example, Sweden's Volvo has just announced a joint venture with India's Eicher Motors to manufacture heavy trucks.

Now, with access to Mount Nimba, Tata Steel can scarcely contain its excitement. Its Managing Director, B. Muthuraman, last week told reporters on the steps of Ivorien President Laurent Gbagbo's residence: " We want to do everything very fast. We have to do exploration. We have to start planning and we have to start mining."

Sixty percent of the iron ore from the mountain will end up in Tata-Corus’ facilities in Britain and the Netherlands, presumably also contributing steel for the projected Tata-Fiat family car.

Riches of all kinds

Without question, Mount Nimba hosts one of the richest caches of iron ore odes on the planet, rivaling Bolivia's El Mutun which, just a few weeks back, ended up in the hands of Tata competitor, Jindal Steel. Twenty five kilometres across, and straddling Guinea, Ivory Coast and Liberia, the lode is estimated to contain at least six billion tonnes of ore, grading up to 68% of iron. (India's own average grades are several points lower.)

However, the mountain is also one of the world's most precious and biodiverse natural sites, an area of grassland and montane forest embracing at least 500 unique endemic species of fauna. Between 1943 and 1980 these were supposedly protected through classification of Mount Nimba as a "Strict Nature Reserve" - thus never to be mined.

In 1980, the Guinean, Liberian and Ivorien sectors of Mount Nimba were further recognised as a Biosphere Reserve under the UNESCO Man & Biosphere Programme. A year later, the Guinean part was inscribed on the World Heritage List and, in 1982, so too was the portion falling within the Ivory Coast.

Shameful compromise

Then, in 1992, came one of the most shameful compromises yet agreed between a conservation organisation and a government bowing to foreign mineral interests (including European iron and steel manufacturers). Mount Nimba had already been overrun by rebels and thousands of refugees from Liberia's horrendous civil war, adopting slash and burn agriculture and taking to small scale mining themselves.

But, instead of banning mining and resettling the refugees with alternative livelihoods, the supposed guardians of Mount Nimba willfully jeopardised its hallowed status.

As UNESCO's World Heritage Committee (WHC) blithely put it at the time: " The [Guinea] government... stated that there had been an error in the definition of the [Mount Nimba] boundary at the time of the World Heritage nomination and the area proposed for mining was not part of the reserve."

Although the government later "accepted the recommendation by an expert mission of a corrected boundary which would ensure the site's integrity", nevertheless " a reduction of 4,530ha in the World Heritage site area was accepted by the WHC to preserve the integrity of the rest of the property while allowing for future mining"

Put simply, the prospect of mining such a lucrative resource flagrantly superseded protection of Mount Nimba's integrity. The decision was backed by one of the key advisors to the WHC, the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), despite the majority of IUCN member organisations being opposed.

This is the same IUCN which, a decade later and once more acting against its members' wishes, sealed an "alliance" with the mining industry's main lobbying body, the ICMM (International Committee on Mining and Metals).

Menaces on the increase

Supposedly, operations in the excised mineral area would not to be allowed to affect Mount Nimba's unique biosphere status, and the lease was reduced in size to 1,550 hectares - although not apparently including the Ivory Coast part of the range.

A number of mining companies - notably Rio Tinto (which has secured its own huge iron ore lease nearby at Simandou) - along with the World Heritage Foundation and other NGOs, took on the responsibility of funding preservation of the World Heritage site.

Yet, at its 2006 annual meeting, the World Heritage Committeee was forced to recognise that, not only were mitigation measures well behind schedule; it wasn't even clear where exactly the boundaries of the World Heritage site are located. By the time of WHC's latest meeting in June this year virtually nothing had changed.

The committee complained that the conservation programme hadn't even started, while the site was "being menaced and more and more" by incursions. [UNESCO World Heritage/Patrimonie Mondiale, Report on Mount Nimba WH Site, 18 June 2007].

This, then, is the parlous geo-political game in which Tata has become a key player. While the company cannot be blamed for the outrageous maneuvering, horse trading, and internecine conflict that engendered the current mess, it must surely not be allowed to make the situation even worse.

Tata should desist from mining anywhere in the Nimba range, at least until the long-delayed studies on its likely impacts, social as well as environmental, have been rigorously performed and independently assessed. That could take many months, if not years.

Given Mr Muthuraman's threat last week to "do everything very fast...we have to start mining", how much faith can we place in a company that has recently, and so shamelessly, blotted its copy book in India itself?

Ivory Coast iron ore development attracts $1bn to 2 bn Indian investment

India’s big Tata Steel company is looking to secure self sufficiency in raw materials supply through a controlling stake in a major iron ore development in the Ivory Coast’s Nimba Mountain area.

ABIDJAN (Reuters)

12th December 2007

India's Tata Steel Ltd will invest $1 billion to $2 billion to develop an iron ore mine in Ivory Coast that could help the company boost its self-sufficiency in raw materials for steel-making.

With iron-ore prices expected to rise again for a fifth straight year as China-driven steel demand continues unabated, steel producers are scrambling to secure their own supplies.

Tata's Managing Director B. Muthuraman said on Tuesday the company would own a 75 percent stake in the iron ore mine in Nimba Mountain in the west of Ivory Coat. The west African nation's state-owned SODEMI would own the rest. He told reporters via conference call the project was expected to produce 700 million to one billion tons of ore per year.

"(Then) we will be well on our way to achieving our target for self-sufficiency," Muthuraman said, adding the company was looking to secure 50 percent to 60 percent of its own iron ore supplies.

By comparison, ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker has a stated objective of 75 percent self-sufficiency.

The Tata chief said the Indian company would the money over the next three to four years to develop the Nimba Mountain site.

"We want to do everything very fast. We have to do exploration. We have to start planning and we have to start mining," Muthuraman told reporters on the steps of President Laurent Gbagbo's residence, after meeting the Ivorian leader.

Muthuraman, who earlier signed a joint venture agreement in the mining and energy ministry, said the first step would be a feasibility study after which a decision would be taken on the required investment.

The ore will be used to supply Tata facilities in Britain and the Netherlands, a Tata spokesman said.

Muthuraman told Reuters last month the company would seek joint ventures with Australian mining companies because it could no longer supply enough of its own raw materials such as iron ore and coking coal, to meet its steel-making capacity, especially after it bought European steel group Corus for $12.9 billion this year. On Tuesday, he declined to identify where Tata was looking for other joint ventures.

Iron ore prices have jumped for five consecutive years and are expected to rise by about another 50 percent this year as mills compete for limited supplies from miners such as Brazil's CVRD, Rio Tinto Ltd/Plc and BHP Billiton Ltd/Plc. BHP has proposed a $140 billion 3-for-1 share purchase of Rio, although Rio has so far rejected the offer.

Tata Steel joins ‘coal rush’ in Mozambique

By Joe Leahy in Mumbai and Elizabeth Fry in Sydney, Financial Times

2nd December 2007

Tata Steel has bought a stake in a coking coal mining project in Mozambique as part of an emerging overseas “coal rush” by India’s steel and power companies keen to secure scarce raw materials.

The indian steelmaker, which bought the Mozambique project with Australia-listed Riversdale Mining, sees the mine as essential in ensuring it has a sustainable supply of coking coal.

“This is not the last investment,” Koushik Chatterjee, Tata Steel chief financial officer, said.

“We are constantly looking at other places for newer investments in coking coal and iron ore, as this will help us in increasing our raw material security.”

Tata Steel, the world’s sixth-largest steelmaker after the £6.7bn ($13.7bn) acquisition of Anglo-Dutch group Corus, joins a growing queue of Indian companies scouring globally for coal mines.

The contest for overseas coal resources has added a new front to India’s already fierce battle with China for offshore oil and gas fields.

The Indian government this month approved a special-purpose vehicle controlled by state-owned coal, power and steel companies to buy foreign mines producing coking coal for steel-making and thermal coal for power generation.

“Mozambique is the only place in the world that is not very much explored and where you can still get some cheap coking coal assets,” said Rakesh Arora, analyst with Macquarie in Mumbai.

Under the Mozambique deal, Tata Steel will pay A$100m ($88.3m) for a 35 per cent stake in a joint venture with Riversdale to develop the mine. It will receive rights to 40 per cent of the output from the project, which has inferred resources of 1.23bn tonnes, with an option to take more.

While Tata Steel derives 70 per cent of its coking coal needs from its own resources, Corus depends on the market for most of its raw materials.

Michael O’Keefe, chairman and chief executive officer of Riversdale Mining, said that while Australia and Canada between them controlled 80 per cent of the hard coking coal business, large consumers were beginning to seek other alternatives.

“India, western Europe and Brazil need to find a new emerging coal province and Mozambique is that province. There is nowhere else in that world that can deliver the quality and size,” Mr O’Keefe said.

Glyn Lawcock, head of resources research at UBS Australia, said it was cheaper to enter such projects at the early stage.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007


Protected Areas and World Heritage
Draft Revision , Protected Areas Programme,
UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, 2007

Brief description: The Mount Nimba range is a transboundary reserve on the border between Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia. Its slopes rise abruptly above the surrounding lowland forest and savanna and are covered by dense cloud forest beneath grassy mountain tops. The interlacing forest and grassland provide a variety of habitats with an unusually rich flora and fauna, including unique endemic species such as viviparous toads.

Threats to the Site: In 1992 the Reserve was threatened by two invasions: an iron-ore mining concession in part of the site was proposed by an international consortium, and a large number of refugees from Liberia invaded areas around and within the Park.

The WH Committee expressed its concern, placing the reserve on the List of the World Heritage in Danger. The Guinean government stated that there had been an error in the definition of the boundary at the time of the World Heritage nomination and the area proposed for mining was not part of the reserve. The government accepted the recommendation by an expert mission of a corrected boundary which would ensure the site's integrity. This the World Heritage Committee confirmed. In response to the Committee's concern about the impacts of mining, the refugees and other threats to the site, the Guinean Ministry for Energy and Environment in 1995 established a Management Centre, responsible for environmental and legal questions, for monitoring the water quality of the region, for socio-economic studies and integrated rural development.

COUNTRY Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire
NAME Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Reserve Naturelle Integrale
des Monts Nimba)


Ia Strict Nature Reserve Biosphere Reserve
Natural World Heritage Site, inscribed in 1981 & 1982. Natural
Criteria ii, iv.

Listed as World Heritage in Danger in 1992 because of invasion by refugees and proposed iron-mining.

Guinean Rain Forest (3.01.01)
West African Woodland Savanna (3.04.04)

GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION The Mount Nimba range is in the far southeast of Guinea, on the border with Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia, 60km east of N'Zérékoré in Guinea. The boundary follows the border between the three countries, excluding the Liberian part of the range from the World Heritage site: 7°32'N - 7° 44'N and 8°20' W - 8°30' W.


1943:A strict nature reserve was established in Côte d'Ivoire as a forêt classée;

1944:The reserve established by decree in Guinea. The given area of 17,130ha included the Ivorean section, but excluded part of the Tuo ridge. Mining in the reserve was assumed a possibility;

1980:The Guinean Mt.Nimba was recognised as a Biosphere Reserve under the UNESCO Man & Biosphere Programme; Ivorian and Liberian Mt.Nimba were also included within the Biosphere Reserve;

1981:The Guinean sector inscribed on the World Heritage List;

1982:The Côte d'Ivoire sector inscribed on the World Heritage List;

1991:The Reserve boundary was revised to exclude a 4,530ha area of ore deposits included in error in1980.

AREA Nature reserve in Guinea: 9,560ha (initially 14,090ha); nature reserve in Côte d'Ivoire: 5,200 ha. Contiguous to a proposed nature reserve in Liberia.

LAND TENURE Government, in Lola prefecture, Guinea. Administered by the Ministry of Agriculture & Animal Resources, National Department of Forests and Hunting.

ALTITUDE 450 to 1,752m (Mt.Richard Molard, the highest west African mountain west of Cameroon).

PHYSICAL FEATURES The Mount Nimba range is a 40km-long narrow ridge running southwest to northeast, part of a Guinean mountain backbone bordering Sierra Leone and Liberia, of PreCambrian basement rock, predominantly granites. It rises abruptly 1,000m above an almost flat surrounding glacis. The range is a striking example of erosional processes.

The sharp relief of the mountains, with their grass-covered summits, precipitous slopes and flat open piedmont, is formed by a ridge of iron-quartzite emerging from softer metamorphic rocks. Weathering also left a gigantic sheet of hard iron-quartzite jutting out of the eroded piedmont schists and granite gneiss. This crusts over the whole glacis of the eastern and northern parts of the piedmont giving very poor soils, usually skeletal lithosols if present at all. These soil conditions explain the treeless grassy summits as well as the belt of savanna at 500-550m around the mountains above which the forests take over (Lamotte,1983)

The Nimba Mountains have great topographical diversity, with valleys, plateaux, rounded hilltops, rocky peaks, abrupt cliffs, waterfalls and bare granite blocks; the whole area being a vast water catchment and reservoir. They are the source of the rivers Cavally (or Diougou) and Ya (or Nuon, the Mami River of Liberia) which cut deep richly forested valleys. The southern two-fifths of the mountain range are in Liberia. Unfortunately for its conservation, the quartzite underlying the range, especially the northernmost peaks of Pierré Richaud and Mt. Sempéré, contains high quality iron-ore bearing rock.

CLIMATE Mount Nimba has a sub-equatorial montane climate subject to several influences. The south end of the range experiences the southwesterly monsoon from the ocean and the north end dry northeasterly harmattan winds from the desert. To seasonal changes are added two climatic gradients: altitudinal and along its length, also rain-shadowing, marked diurnal variations in temperature and a persistent daily belt of cloud above ~950m. The following relies on data from the Liberian sector (Coe,1975). The mean minimum and maximum temperatures recorded are 14°C and 30°C respectively (17°and 23° on the peaks). The mean annual rainfall is about 3000mm, but varies with elevation from ~1750mm at the base (1430mm at the north end) to ~3300mm on the peaks, also with aspect, ocean-facing slopes being wetter than north-facing rain shadowed slopes. The wettest months are usually April to November (May to November on the peaks).

There is pronounced variation, but rainfall is usually heaviest from August to October. January is the driest month with a mean rainfall of 20mm. Relative humidity in the mornings is 94% to 99%, dropping in the afternoon as much as 70-80%. A mean minimum of 18% is recorded in January and February when dry frequently heavily dust-laden winds blow from the desert. For much of the year, except during the dry season, a belt of dense cloud develops daily above 850m and hangs halfway up the mountain (Colston & Curry-Lindahl, 1986). Detailed accounts of the climate are given in Schnell (1952) and Adam (1983).

VEGETATION Mount Nimba is near the border between the tropical forest and the West African savanna belt. It is part of an archipelago of peaks and plateaux, an isolated refugium covered by Guinean montane forest, which rises steeply above undulating lowland forest plains. It is known as a centre of plant diversity mostly for its forests, although its endemic distinctiveness is in the montane grassland zone (White, 1983; IUCN/ WWF,1988; Wilson,1991). Over 2000 species of vascular plants with 16 of the 35 considered endemic to the region have been described from the area by Adam (1971-83). There are three major vegetation types: high altitude grassland with relict highland forest, piedmont edaphic savanna from 550-600m with gallery forest between 1,000 and 1,600m, and primary forest in the foothills between 600 and 1000m, all possessing a high diversity of plants.

The unique high altitude grassland or montane savanna is dominated by Loudetia kagerensis on the summits. Endemics include a fern, Asplenium schnellii (I), two flowering plants, Osbeckia porteresii (I) and Blaeria nimbana, also Dolichos nimbaensis, and Euphorbia depauperata, found only on the mountain and in Ethiopia. On the slopes there are woody plants such as the regional endemic Protea occidentalis. The piedmont savanna is patchy, varying according to its degree of laterisation and pan-development; in places it is marshy overlying rock pavement. It supports a high diversity of herbaceous communities. Beyond these edaphic savannas is a wide plain covered with lowland forest.

Remnants of montane forest are likely to be dominated by Mytaceae species and the highest valleys by the tree fern Cyathula cylindrica var.mannii. The savanna is broken by gallery forests which extend up mountainside ravines between 1,000m and 1,600m. There is a sudden change to sub-montane cloud forest around 900m and above 1,000m Parinari excelsa becomes dominant, with Syzygium montanum Ochna and Gaertnera spp. In these mid-altitude cloud-forests above 1,200m there are abundant lianas, epiphytes, ferns lycopods, lichens, fungi and mosses. There are 101 species of orchid, including an endemic, Rhipidoglossum paucifolium (Lebbie,2001). Drier semi-deciduous mid-altitude forests with trees such as Triplochiton scleroxylon, Piptadeniastrum africanum, and Parkia bicolor are found at the northern end of the range on the slopes more exposed to dessicating winds from the desert. They are rarer than rainforests because of agricultural pressure, and some of the dry forest species have disappeared from many areas (Lamotte,1983). The dense, moist, predominantly primary lowland forest is in the foothills and lower valleys especially in the south between 550 and 900m. The dominant species include Lophira procera, Tarrietia utilis, Mapania spp.,Chlorophora regia, Morus mesozygia and Terminalia ivorensis. Secondary forest is found where land has been disturbed for slash and burn farming. Reduction and degradation of the area by mining may also lead to invasion by weedy exotic plants, and a decline in those animal species which need undisturbed space to reproduce successfully.

FAUNA More than 500 new species of fauna have been discovered in Mount Nimba Reserve, and in the past, more than 200 endemic species were found on the Liberian end of Mt. Nimba (Curry-Lindahl, pers.comm.1987). The species diversity is exceptionally rich because of the variety of habitats created by the presence of grasslands laced with forest, and the variety of microclimatic niches.

Mammals There are small primate populations of potto Perodicticus potto, western black and white colobus Colobus polykomos, red colobus Colobus badius (EN), diana monkey Cercopithecus diana (EN), lesser bushbaby Galago senegalensi and chimpanzees Pan troglodytes (EN) which are close neighbors of the tool-using population in Bossou. Other mammals include tree pangolin Manis tricuspis and, probably, giant and longtailed pangolins M. gigantea and M.longicaudata, cane rat Thryonomys swinderianus, African clawless otter Aonyx capensis and lesser otter shrew Micropotamogale lamottei (EN), a new genus discovered on Mount Nimba, two-spotted palm civet Nandinia binotata, African civet Viverra civetta, forest genet Genetta maculata, servaline genet G. servalina, the rare Johnston's genet G. johnstoni, red mongoose Herpestes sanguineus, golden cat Felis aurata , leopard Panthera pardus and lion P. leo (VU). There are also is an isolated population of the Cape dassie Procavia capensis, also tree hyrax Dendrohyrax dorsalis; and bush pig Potamochoerus porcus, warthog Phacochoerus aethiopicus, bushbuck Tragelaphus scriptus, Maxwell's duiker Cephalophus maxwelli and black duiker C. niger, bay duiker C. dorsalis and forest buffalo Syncerus caffer nanus. Many of these are prey of the growing number of leopards (Lamotte,1983). There are many species of squirrels, rodents and bats which are rare elsewhere such as Stanger's squirrel Protoxerus tangeri, white-toothed shrew Crocidura nimbae and Beecroft's bat Anomaurops beecrofti. Information on the distribution, feeding and breeding of fifty-five mammal species is given in Coe (1975) and later information in Lamotte (1998). The pygmy hippopotamus Choeropsis liberiensis, is no longer found on the mountain (Lamotte, 1998).

The forests contain more than 10 reptile and amphibian species including West African toad Bufo superciliaris and the frogs Cassina lamottei and Arthrolepis crusculum. The most noteworthy species is the viviparous toad Nimbaphrynoides occidentalis (EN), which occurs in montane grasslands at 1,200-1,600m and is one of the world's few tailless amphibians that is totally viviparous. N.liberiensis, also found on Mount Nimba, shares this characteristic which is an adaptation to xeric conditions. Fish are abundant, especially below 500m: 15 families and 22 genera are found (Lamotte,1998). Upland invertebrate species include gastropod molluscs and many species of insects belonging to the Carabidae, Gryllidae, Acrididae and the Forciculidae (beetle, grasshopper, cricket and earwig) families, of which more than 20 are endemic to the massif.

The avifauna is very diverse, reflecting the diversity of topographic and climatic conditions and a number of rare and endemic bird species occur, especially in the various types of forest. 72 species have been recorded as resident, but this must be a small proportion of what may exist on site (Wilson,1991). These include the near-endemic white-eyed prinia Prinia leontica (VU), the grey-winged robinchat Cossypha polioptera, lemon dove Columba larvata, Sharp's apalis Apalis sharpei, whitenecked rockfowl Picathartes gymnocephalus (VU) and Nimba flycatcher Melaenornis annamarulae (VU), (Lebbie,2001), A detailed account of birds in Liberian Nimba is given in Coston & Curry-Lindahl (1986).

CULTURAL HERITAGE The mountain has some protohistoric archaeological interest as stone tools and chippings hewn from ammonites have been discovered in a rock shelter at Blandé at the northern end (Lamotte,1983).

LOCAL HUMAN POPULATION There has probably never been any village on the mountains, which have been partly protected out of fear of resident spirits, but there is some vegetational evidence of former village sites on the lower levels, now overgrown. There are ten existing villages nearby with several thousand inhabitants, mainly cultivators. Since 1991, population pressure has increased following the influx of refugees from Liberia.

VISITORS AND VISITOR FACILITIES Tourism is prohibited within the strict nature reserves, but is permitted within the biosphere reserve in organised groups (Direction National de la Recherche Scientific et Technique, pers. comm.,1995).

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND FACILITIES The mountain has been well studied taxonomically, geological, botanical and zoological inventories (except for birds) having been completed. A summary of the natural history of the Nimba range in Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia is given by Curry-Lindahl & Harroy (1972) and a bibliography and other studies are given in Colston & Curry-Lindahl (1986). Descriptions of early work on Liberian Nimba are given in Coe & Curry-Lindahl (1965) and Curry-Lindahl (1965,1968,1969). The single most important work is probably that of Adam on the flora (1971-1983) while the Guinean and Côte d'Ivoirean sections of Nimba are well known through a number of publications. The major works are by Leclerc et al. (1955) on the geography, Schnell (1952) on the montane vegetation, and on the fauna: Angel et al. (1954a; 1954b), Heim de Balsac (1958), Heim de Balsac & Lamotte (1958). Guibe & Lamotte (1958, 1963), Laurent (1958), Lamotte (1959), Aellen (1963) and Lamotte & Xavier (1972). Several international research workers in the fields of biology, ecology, geography, primatology and meteorology are interested in the area. With appropriate facilities, scientific research on Mount Nimba could form the basis of a tropical ecology station of international importance.

More than 500 new species have been described or reported, including several mammals, one a new genus of otter shrew, more than ten amphibians and reptiles, several fish and arthropods, notably centipedes and harvestmen, and molluscs. Research includes phyto-sociological studies of high altitude grasslands, primate studies, and meteorological data. There are six patrol stations in the reserve which are used to monitor various environmental parameters. The field research station of the Institute Français pour l'Afrique Noire (IFAN) is at the northern tip of the massif and has a long record of published research. In Liberia, the Nimba Research Laboratory has been in operation since 1963, under the aegis of the IUCN Nimba Research Committee, partly funded by LAMCO (the Liberian-American Minerals Company). The government has organised various missions and training conferences together with UNESCO in order to redefine the problems of ecosystem protection (Lamotte,1983; Pascual et al.1988 and Pascual, et al.1989). These missions have added to scientific knowledge of various fauna (Lamotte 1983) and flora (Fournier, 1987; Schnell, 1987) species, and soils. During the same period the tool-using chimpanzees at nearby Bossou were studied by the Institute of Primatology, University of Kyoto (Sugiyama, 1979,1981,1984,1990; Sugiyama & Koman, 1987; Sugiyama, Koman & Sow, 1988).

CONSERVATION VALUE The area of dense forest on the mountain is of great topographic diversity and geologic and biological interest with its variety of habitats due to the interpenetration of forest and grassland, the differences in substrates, altitude, microclimates and consequent vegetation types. It has an especially rich flora and fauna, with endemic species such as the viviparous toad and is known as a centre of plant diversity (IUCN/ WWF,1988)

CONSERVATION MANAGEMENT Mining Mount Nimba for iron-ore in the northernmost peaks, Pierré Richaud and Mt. Sempéré, has always been intended as soon as it became practicable: a 20-volume study of its feasibility was completed in 1978. It was also intended to reinvest some profits in rehabilitating the mine site and improving maintenance of the Reserve. In 1989-91, UNDP, UNESCO and the Guinean government studied the impacts of opencast extraction and farming on the site, including research to complete knowledge of its extremely rich ecosystems, with measures for its monitoring and protection.

This was the basis for a 1991 management plan for a transition zone of 160,000ha of the entire Guinean part of the high basin of the Cavally river (R.Diougou). The government also stated then that there had been an error in the definition of the boundary at the time of the World Heritage nomination and the area proposed for mining was not part of the reserve. The government accepted the recommendation by an expert mission of a corrected boundary which would ensure the site's integrity. Mining did not prove economically feasible at that time, but a reduction of 4,530ha in the World Heritage site area was accepted by the WHC to preserve the integrity of the rest of the property while allowing for future mining (UNESCO, 1992).

In 1995 the Guinean government Ministry for Energy and Environment established the Centre for Environmental Management of Mount Nimba (Centre de Gestion de l'Environnement des Monts Nimba, CEGEN) which is responsible for environmental and legal questions, monitoring the water quality of the region, for socio-economic studies and integrated rural development. While developing the mine on Pierré Richaud during the next 25 years, it undertook to enhance the economic growth of the region in a way respectful of the integrity of the Reserve. In this it will be aided by funding from GEF and USAID to help control water pollution and for forgoing the extraction of 50 million tons of iron-rich ore (UNESCO, 1999).

In 1999 funding was recommended for the protection of the site from the effects of the proposed adjacent mine (UNESCO,2000). In 2000, 2001 and 2002 meetings were held between the government, WHF, Rio Tinto and several conservation NGOs on the need for clear boundary marking, transboundary cooperation, surrounding community relations and fundraising. A UNDP/GEF project was funded to provide guidelines for integrated management and support services to build local capacity, develop an integrated project and set up a tri-national Mount Nimba Foundation. This the Cote d'Ivoire was not able to join, being independently financed by the World Bank and EEU (UNESCO, 2001).

But by 2002, the WHC noted that Liberia had joined the Convention, transborder collaboration was improving, and it urged settlement of differences between Guinea and Cote'Ivoire over the Dere-Tiapleu forest border (UNESCO,2002).

MANAGEMENT CONSTRAINTS Habitat destruction constitutes a major threat, principally through slash and burn farming and the ensuing wild fires. Hunting pressure on the large fauna comes from Liberians and Ivoreans as well as Guineans. The Reserve has been threatened by the arrival of a large number of refugees from Liberia to areas in and around the World Heritage site. Their poaching for bushmeat is common throughout the range. The other major threat is from large-scale iron-ore mining. From the 1950s this did enormous damage to East Nimba and West Nimba National Forests in the Liberian part of the range until its ore deposits were exhausted in 1989. The area now designated as a World Heritage site excludes both the Liberian sector, defaced by the past mining and intensively poached, and the northern end in Guinea, now extensively disturbed by mining activity.

Since 1975, at the north end of the mountains, roads, wells and mineshafts have been built and workshops and townships established in what was a strict nature reserve in 1944. About 6,000ha are affected. 800ha will be destroyed at the Pierré Richaud mine.

Hundreds of square metres of soil have been removed over large areas and as a result erosion is serious, streams for miles around are fouled by heavy metal run-off, especially ferruginous rock debris (Droop,1986). The 1990 plan proposed to mine ore deposits found in the final 300m of the hills in the centre of the Guinean section.

These cover a plan area of some 197ha. with an estimated 300 million tonnes of iron ore and an annual production of 12 million tonnes and 80 million tonnes of tailings. It is hoped that environmental impacts will be reduced by using infrastructure already in place in Liberia, such as the railway to the deep-water port at Buchanan.

The Billiton and EURONIMBA companies involved undertook to control water pollution and minimise the presence of the mining communities within the Park. A study of the best way to rehabilitate the zones as artificial parks was proposed: if hunting were strictly controlled, the two areas could serve as buffer zones for the World Heritage site (Lamotte,1983).

The disturbance could nevertheless initiate invasion of the Reserve by exotic species. These threats led to the site being added to the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1992.

STAFF There is a total of 11, with three researchers (DNRST,1995).
BUDGET There is little information on earlier funding but in 1996 US$20,000 was provided by the WHF for technical assistance. In 2000 a UNDP/GEF Project financed by the WHF and GEF granted $6m towards an $8m program of development to preserve and maintain the site (UNESCO, 2001); and in 2001 WHF gave US$30,000 towards a biodiversity project (UNESCO, 2002).

Station Scientifique des Monts Nimba, S/C IDNSRT, BP 561, Conakry, Guinea.


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Adam J. (1981). Flore Descriptive des Monts Nimba (Côte d'Ivoire,
Guinée, Libéria). Editions du Centre National de la Recherche
Scientifique, Paris.
Aellen, V. (1963). La Réserve Intégrale du Mont Nimba, 29.
Chiroptères. Mémoires de l'Institut Français d'Afrique Noire, 66: 629-638. Angel, F., Guibé, J.& Lamotte, M. (1954a). La reserve integrale du
Mont Nimba, 31. Lézards. Mémoires de l'Institut Français d'Afrique
Noire 40: 371-380.
Angel, F.,Guibé, J. & Lamotte, M. (1954a). La Reserve Integrale du
Mont Nimba, 32. Serpents. Mémoires de l'Institut Français d'Afrique
Noire 40: 381-402.
Anon. (1952). La réserve naturelle intégrale du Mont Nimba. Mémoires
de l'Institut Français d'Afrique Noire, 19.
Anon. (1958). La réserve naturelle intégrale du Mont Nimba. Mémoires
de l'Institut Français d'Afrique Noire, 53.
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de l'Institut Français d'Afrique Noire, 66. Biosphere Reserve
Nomination submitted to UNESCO.
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Liberia. Mammalia 39: 523-587.
Coe, M.& Curry-Lindahl, K. (1965). Ecology of a mountain: first
report on Liberian Nimba. Oryx 8: 177-184.
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982. London. 129 pp.
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(DNSRT) (1995). Pers.comm.
Droop, S. (1986) Mt. Nimba. A Draft Description of the Flora and
Conservation Status of Mt.Nimba. Report for IUCN.
Fournier, A. (1987). Quelques données quantitatives sur les
formations herbacées d'altitude des monts Nimba (Ouest africain).
Bulletin du Musée National d'Histoire Naturelle, 4e série 9, section
B, Adansonia 2: 153-166.
Guibé, J. & Lamotte, M. (1958). La réserve intégrale du Mont Nimba,
12. Batraciens. Mémoires de l'Institut Français d'Afrique Noire, 53:
Guibé, J. & Lamotte, M. (1963). La réserve intégrale du Mont Nimba,
27. Batraciens du genre Phrynobatrachus. Mémoires de l'Institut
Français d'Afrique Noire, 66: 601-627.
Heim de Balsac, H. (1958). La réserve intégrale du Mont Nimba, 14.
Mammiferes, Insectivores. Mémoires de l'Institut Français d'Afrique
Noire, 53: 301-337.
Heim de Balsac, H. & Lamotte, M. (1958). La réserve integrale du
Mont Nimba. 15. Mammiferes rongeurs (Muscardinides et Murides).
Mémoires de l'Institut Français d'Afrique Noire, 53: 339-357.
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for their Conservation. IUCN-WWF Plants Conservation Programme/IUCN
Threatened Plants Unit. 40 pp.
Lamotte, M. (1959). Observations écologiques sur les populations
naturelles de Nectophrynoides occidentalis (Fam. Bufonidés). Bull.
Biol. Fr. Belg. 93: 355-413.
Lamotte, M. (1983). The undermining of Mount Nimba. Ambio 12:
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la Réserve du Nimba. Rapport de mission, Division des sciences
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Lamotte, M. (ed.) (1998). Le Mont Nimba. Réserve Biosphere et Site
du Patrimoine Mondial (Guinée et Côte d'Ivoire). UNESCO, Paris.
Lamotte, M. & Xavier, F. (1972). Recherches sur le développement
embryonnaire de Nectophrynoides occidentalis Angel, amphibian anoure
vivipare. 1. Anns. Embryol. Morphogen, 5: 315-340.
Laurent, R. (1958). La réserve intégrale du Mont Nimba. 13. Les
rainettes du genre Hyperolius. Mémoires de l'Institut Français
d'Afrique Noire, 53: 275-299.
Lebbie, A. (2001). Guinean Montane Forests (ATO114). Draft report to
Leclerc, J., Lamotte, M., Richard-Molard, J., Rougerie, G. &
Porteres, P. (1955). La Réserve Naturelle Intégrale du Mont Nimba.
La chaine du Nimba: essai géographique. Mémoires de l'Institut
Français d'Afrique Noire, 43: 1-256.
Pascual, J (1984). Rapport de la Mission Menée en Guinée aux Monts
Nimba (1e partie) et en Côte d'Ivoire (2e partie) du 26 Novembre au
28 Décembre 1983. CEGET-CNRS 117.
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Minéralogiques des Formations Superficielles des Crêtes NE des Monts
Nimba. CEGET-CNRS 109.
Pascual, J. (in press). Les sols actuels et les formations
superficielles des crêtes Nord-Est du Nimba (Guinée). Contribution à
l'étude géomorphologique du quaternaire de la chaîne. Cahiers
ORSTOM, série pédo.
Pascual, J., Soumah, F.,Coumbassa, S.,Traore, I. & Kabala, D.(1988).
Rapport de la Mission menée en République de Guinée du 20 Octobre au
17 Novembre 1988. Division des sciences écologiques, UNESCO. 37 pp.
Pascual, J., Soumah, F., Coumbassa, A., & Kabala, D. (1989). Rapport
de la Mission menée en Guinée du 19 Janvier au 3 Février, 1989.
Division des sciences écologiques, UNESCO. 16 pp.
Schnell, R. (1952). Vegétation et flore de la région montagneuse du
Nimba. Mémoires de l'Institut Français d'Afrique Noire, 22 1-604.
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Nimba (Ouest africain). Bulletin du Muséum National d'Histoire
Naturelle, Paris, 4e série, 9 section B, Adansonia 2: 137-151.
Sugiyama, Y. (1981). Tool-using and -making behaviour in wild
chimpanzees at Bossou, Guinea. Primates 20: 513-524.
Sugiyama, Y. (1984). Population dynamics of wild chimpanzees at
Bossou, Guinea, between 1976 and 1983. Primates 25: 391-400.
Sugiyama,Y.(1990). A ten-year summary of population dynamics for
chimpanzees at Bossou, Guinea. In Heltne,P.& Marquardt, L. (eds)
Understanding Chimpanzees. Chicago Academy of Science.
Sugiyama, Y. & Koman, J. (1979). Social structure and dynamics of
wild chimpanzees at Bossou, Guinea. Primates, 20: 323-339.
Sugiyama, Y. & Koman, J. (1987). A preliminary list of chimpanzees
alimentation at Bossou, Guinea. Primates 28: 391-400.
Sugiyama, Y., Koman, J. & Sow, M. (1988). Ant-catching wands of wild
chimpanzees at Bossou, Guinea. Folia Primatol. 51: 56-60.
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(Unpublished), 19 pp.
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UNESCO World Heritage Committee (2000) Report on the 23rd Session of
the World Heritage Committee, Paris.
UNESCO World Heritage Committee (2001) Report on the 24th Session of
the World Heritage Committee, Paris.
UNESCO World Heritage Committee (2002) Report on the 25th Session of
the World Heritage Committee, Paris.
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Accompany the UNESCO/ AETFAT/ UNSO Vegetation map on Africa.
UNESCO, Paris.
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Evaluation of Site Characteristics Against the Criteria for
Inclusion on the World Heritage List. Report for IUCN
World Heritage Nomination submitted to UNESCO.
DATE 1983. Updated 5/1989, 9/1989, 3/1990, March 2003.

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