High Power Exploration Inc (HPX) Chief Executive Officer Bronwyn Barnes has announced the company’s strong support for the United States Government's consideration of a multi-user regional infrastructure corridor linking Guinea and Liberia.
As a U.S. company, HPX is keen to lend its active support to the concept of a multi-user infrastructure corridor that could link the two countries and provide significant benefits to regional industries and communities.
The infrastructure corridor is proposed to contain an upgraded and expanded rail system that would extend the existing rail line that runs from Buchanan Port to Yekapa in Nimba County into the Lola district of Guinea connecting the two countries, an extension of the existing hydropower network from Cote d’Ivoire into the Nimba districts of Liberia and Guinea, an upgrade of existing road networks in the Nimba district to all-weather roads and the implementation of fibre optic cable connecting the Port of Buchanan to the Nimba district and potentially beyond.
During meetings with senior executive White House and State Department officials in Washington recently, Bronwyn Barnes and Robert Friedland, acting CEO of I-Pulse Inc., a major shareholder of HPX, discussed HPX’s development plans for the Nimba Iron Ore Project in Guinea and its support for a multiuser infrastructure corridor linking the two countries and providing the opportunity to transform economic and social development of both countries.
With existing rail, road and port infrastructure in place on which to build a multiuser regional infrastructure corridor, owned and operated by the Liberian government and, with major mining companies in the Nimba district of Guinea and Liberia as foundation customers, this concept is now receiving significant consideration in the United States and reflects previous commitments made by the President of the Republic of Liberia.
President George Weah released Executive Order 112 in October 2022, which established the National Railway Authority (NRA) with responsibility to manage railway and associated infrastructures owned by the Government of Liberia. This includes the Yekepa Railway that runs from Nimba County through parts of Bong County to the terminus and associated port infrastructure at Buchanan Port.
A Liberia-Guinea multi-user infrastructure corridor has the potential to transform the mineral-rich Nimba region, and for projects along the railway in Liberia, stimulating further economic activity in mining, but also agriculture, manufacturing, health, education and improve the quality of life for the 800,000 people living in the region.
HPX Chief Executive Officer Bronwyn Barnes commented: “The proposed Liberia – Guinea Corridor is the shortest and most direct export and import route from the iron-rich Nimba district to the seaborne international market, which provides superior logistics and significantly lower carbon emissions than the alternative transport routes.
"The U.S. Government's consideration of the potential for the Liberia – Guinea Corridor is extremely encouraging. This project has the potential to transform the mineral-rich Nimba region, and for projects along the railway in Liberia, stimulating further economic activity in mining, but also agriculture, manufacturing, health, education and improve the quality of life for the citizens of both countries.”
The opportunities that a refurbished and expanded infrastructure corridor could offer are in line with the objectives of the U.S. Strategy towards Sub-Saharan Africa, and the commitments given by President Biden and the G7 in May 2023 in a flagship infrastructure initiative – the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (“PGII”).
The United States has announced a series of new PGII initiatives to build out transformative economic corridors and drive infrastructure investments that can boost and connect economic development across multiple countries and sectors.
HPX’s financial commitment to the construction of the corridor, and a commitment as a long-term customer, would be similar to the Lobito Corridor linking Angola to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Zambia, announced by US President Biden at the G7 Summit in May.
The U.S. Government is currently completing due diligence for a potential investment of US$250 million from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation towards the Lobito Corridor.
Its foundation customer is Ivanhoe Mines, of which Mr Friedland is the Founder and Co-Executive Chairman. Ivanhoe Mines recently executed a Memorandum of Understanding to use the rail corridor to transport its copper concentrate product from the DRC through to the Port of Lobito with up to 10,000 tonnes of concentrate commencing in Q4 2023.
Following the signature of a framework agreement in 2019, HPX is working with the Liberian Government to agree infrastructure access for the existing rail line that runs from the Guinean-Liberia border at Yekapa to the existing Buchanan port facilities.
HPX is planning to commence operation in 2025 depending on reaching an agreement with the Government of Liberia over rail and port access arrangements, for which it has pre-paid the Government US$37 million in fees in a sign of good faith.
As the project ramps up from its commencement phase of 2 million tonnes of iron ore per year transported through Liberia to its planned maximum capacity of 30 million tonnes, it is expected that significant fees and charges would be paid by HPX to the Liberian government for rail and port access.