and Diamond Mining:
1869: The first mining company
In 1898 President William D. Coleman had granted the 'Excelsior Mining Company' "certain rights over an area of 1.500 acres in the County of Maryland in perpetuity, in respect of minerals, of public lands to be selected by them (…)".(1)
As this company may have been foreign owned (2) the granting of perpetual
rights may have been in conflict with the spirit of the Constitution,
which prevents foreigners from holding real estate in the republic (3).
These perpetual rights are an indication that not only the right to engage
in exploratory activities had been granted but also the right to mine
subsoil natural resources such as gold or diamonds. Whether the company
had obtained general mining rights or only rights in respect of gold, or
diamonds, is not known but at that time no geological survey had ever been
carried out in the country and the former seems most probable. Apparently,
production and/or export records do not exist and mining activities may
not have been very successful or profitable.
The interesting point here of this 1914 Amendment is that clearly the company’s attention was focused on the northern part of Maryland County (this region became part of Grand Gedeh County under the administrative reform of 1964). As these infrastructural improvements never materialized – infrastructure in this part of the country being non-existent before the coming to power of President William Tubman – neither mining nor timber cutting operations were ever carried out on a large scale.
(1) Source: "An Act Amending and Enlarging the Rights and Powers of the
Excelsior Mining Company Ltd. of Maryland County, Liberia" (1914).
(2) No other proof or indication was found in respect of the foreign ownership of the Excelsior Mining Company except Section 2 of the 1914 Act (see note 1) which reads: "That the Company, nor its managers or employees, shall not practice any racial discrimination either expressed or implied in their freights and passenger rates nor shall it ever have any seperate cars, or portion of said cars for the carrying of Negroes only."
(3) The Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, Article V, Section 12.
(4) Source: The 1914 Act (see note 1). It is very likely that this was the first timber concession ever granted in Liberia to a foreign company.
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