Early Protection Status of the Nimba Mountains
The northern 60% of the Nimba Mountains was established as a strict nature reserve (SNR) in July 1944, spanning what is today the Guinean and Ivorian Nimba Mountains. Management of the reserve began in 1946 by relocating villages and farms inside it to outside the boundary, and access was prohibited. The SNR was expanded in the mid-1950s in the southwest, near the villages of Nyon and Thuo. When measured with modern GIS technology, the full SNR covered just over 200 km². Significant research was conducted in the Nimba Mountains in the 1940s and 1950s, resulting in numerous publications.
Guinean Independence and Mining in Liberia
With Guinea’s independence in 1958, most foreign researchers left but continued studies in Côte d’Ivoire or Liberia, where nearby research stations were set up in the 1960s and 1970s. Following the identification of high-grade haematite in the Liberian Nimba Mountains in the mid-1950s, very close to the borders with Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire, a large, open-pit iron ore mine was constructed starting in 1960 and operated until the early 1990s, when it was abandoned because of the Liberian civil war.
Early Mineral Exploration in Guinean Nimba
Mineral exploration first started in Guinea in the late 1960s, led by the United Nations’ Development Programme (UNDP), and then by various other investors working with the company Mifergui-Nimba throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Although several studies and environmental impact assessments were conducted, a mine was never developed. The first phase of Liberia’s civil war (1990-96) made it impossible to export ore via the nearby railway which ran from 2 km south of the Guinean border to a deep-water port at Buchanan, on the Liberian coast.