Mining Sector to Drive Economy

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    Lajor pit new liberty gold mine Liberia

    The Central Bank of Liberia has tipped the mining sector to drive the country’s economic recovery following a promising industrial performance in the first three months in 2018 ending marching 31.

    In its published first-quarter Financial and Economic Bulletin, the Bank said

    Real GDP growth for 2018 is projected to rise by 0.7 percentage point to 3.2 percent or US$933.04 million, from 2.5 percent or US$904.1 million in 2017.

    “Although there is a marginal decline in activity in the mining and panning sector, it is however expected to drive projected growth during the year, especially through industrial gold production,” the CBL said in its publication.

    According to the Bank, gold production during the review quarter rose to 70,538 ounces, up from 41,931 ounces produced in the preceding quarter.

    Favorable global price of the commodity, the Central Bank, said is amongst key factors that contributed to the 68.2 percent quarterly surge in gold production. Compare with the corresponding period a year ago, output rose by 31.7 percent or 16,975 ounces.

    “Diamond output at quarter-ended March 2018 stood at 24,477carats, up from 15,673 carats produced during the fourth quarter of 2017. The 56.2 percent or 8,803 carats rise in diamond production was explained by the exploration of new and productive mines. On an annualized basis, output grew by 54.2 percent or 8,608 carats,” it said.

    Iron ore also experienced increase in production, recording 469,047 metric tons, up from 154,118 metric tons produced during the last quarter. The 314,929 metric tons surge in iron ore production is credited to the increase in the price of the commodity on the global market, from an average price of US$66.1 per metric ton to US$74.7 per metric ton. On a year-on-year basis, output was increased by 95,449 metric tons or 25.5 percent, according to the CBL.

    While headline inflation on average at the quarter-ended March, 2018 increased to 17.6 percent from 13.0 percent during the previous quarter, and 12.9 percent during the corresponding period a year ago there were improvements in export earnings and the country’s international reserves.

    The report: Merchandise statistics on export showed that earnings grew significantly by US$63.5 million compared with the preceding quarter. In the face of increased export receipts during the quarter, the leading destinations were Europe and North America with each region accounting for 71.0 percent and 17.5 percent of total exports, respectively.

    The gross international reserves position (including SDRs) of Liberia at end-March, 2018 rose by 5.8 percent as compared with the figure recorded at end of the preceding quarter. This increase in reserve position was a result of a rise in currency balances with banks abroad. The country’s net foreign reserves position (including SDRs) improved significantly by 21.3 percent.

    – Festus Poquie