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Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve

Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea
Factors affecting the property in 1990*
  • Financial resources
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Illegal activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Mining
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

Lack of Management Plan; Lack of funding; Poaching; New railway; Mining

International Assistance: requests for the property until 1990
Requests approved: 7 (from 1981-1989)
Total amount approved : 147,882 USD
1989 Purchase of an all terrain vehicle for Mount Nimba (Approved)   20,000 USD
1988 Consultancy mission and meeting for preparing ... (Approved)   15,000 USD
1986 Equipment for Mount Nimba Reserve (Approved)   6,500 USD
1983 Financial contribution to a seminar/workshop on the ... (Approved)   22,000 USD
1983 Consultant services to prepare requests for technical ... (Approved)   6,082 USD
1982 Financial contribution to a tripartite meeting (Guinea, ... (Approved)   8,000 USD
1981 Equipment for Mount Nimba (Approved)   70,300 USD
Missions to the property until 1990**

November 1988

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1990

An integrated project, prepared as follow up to a preparatory assistance project financed by the World Heritage Fund in 1988 is now being implemented in Mt.Nimba (C6te d'Ivoire/Guinea) with financial assistance from UNDP. The project includes a survey of the natural resources of the site which will provide a basis for assessing the potential impacts of the proposed iron-ore mining project.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1990

The concern of the Committee and the Bureau regarding the impact of the proposed mining of iron-ore in this site had already been communicated to the Guinean authorities, the French authorities (in view of the interests of a French mining company), as well as the World Bank. Neither the Guinean nor the French authorities have replied at the time of writing.

The threat to this site is being further exacerbated by the incursion of several thousand refugees from Liberia who, at the time of writing, were receiving emergency aid from the United Nations.

The World Bank (Occidental and Central Africa Department) has informed the Secretariat that at present it is administering a US $ 500,000 Japanese grant for an environmental assessment study. US $ 300,000 from this grant have been provided to a Unesco ecological study on Mt. Nimba which is likely to provide information necessary for making future environmental assessments. The Bank has furthermore informed the Secretariat that it has recommended the Guinean authorities not to approve any mining project as long as the environmental assessment study has not been completed.

The mining group, which includes American, French, and Japanese interests, has in the meantime commissioned its own environmental assessment, including an environmental protection plan, which should be completed by mid-November and be available for inspection and review, by the World Heritage Committee as by others.



Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1990
14 BUR IV.A.22-24
Mount Nimba (Guinea and Cote d'Ivoire)

22. The Bureau recalled that at the time of the inscription of this site on the World Heritage List in 1981, the Committee was aware of the pending threat to exploit the rich iron ore deposit situated in the northern part of the Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve in Guinea. A project now existed which was of great interest to the steel industry for Europe, Japan and the United States, and which was to be financed essentially by mining consortia from France, Japan and the United States. It would involve the extension of an existing railway from the Liberian side of Mount Nimba, the construction of a moving pavement to transport the ore from the summits of the northern part of Mount Nimba and an open cast mine with a surface area of some 200 ha. The World Bank, which was also involved in the financial support of the project, was conscious of the world heritage status of the site and had drawn up terms of reference for an environmental impact assessment. IUCN, on its part, had refused to take the leadership of this assessment since the mining activity would obviously seriously jeopardize the integrity of the natural ecosystems for which this site was included in the World Heritage List. The Bureau was further informed of the recent launching, at the request of the Guinean Government, of a Unesco/UNDP project aimed at studying the ecosystems of the site in view of improving protection and management. It was certain that the data collected from this study could provide a basis for an environmental impact assessment.

23. The Bureau was informed that following a private visit of the French mining company concerned, the Secretariat had addressed a letter dated 8 June 1990 to the Permanent Delegate of France to Unesco informing him of the situation and recalling France's obligation under Article 6.3 of the Convention to avoid taking any measures which would damage a world heritage site located in another State Party. A similar letter had been addressed on 8 June 1990 to the Permanent Delegate for Guinea, recalling the responsibility of Guinea to protect its world heritage site.

24. The observer from France informed the Committee that he would take up this matter with the competent authorities in his country. The Bureau expressed its concern over this threat which clearly highlighted the economic factors involved in safeguarding world heritage properties. The Bureau, conscious of the fact that the Guinean Government would in fact receive relatively little income from the exploitation of the iron ore of Mount Nimba (as had been indicated by the World Bank at the time of the last Committee session), requested the Secretariat to contact the Guinean authorities as well as the other States Parties concerned, to ask them to forgo this project in the light of their obligations under the World Heritage Convention, and to review the economic consequences.

SOC: Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Guinea and Cote d'Ivoire)

Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Guinea and Cote d'Ivoire)

The Committee took note of the information supplied by IUCN concerning the Mount Nimba mining project and the fact that this project, according to IUCN, would threaten the intrinsic value and integrity which had justified the inscription of this property on the World Heritage List. The IUCN General Assembly, which had just ended in Australia, adopted a resolution urging the Guinean authorities not to allow this project and to implement a development plan for the region which would insure the protection of the site.

The Guinean observer confirmed the Guinean Government's intention to mine iron-ore at this site and noted that the prospect of such mining had always been clearly understood, even at the time this property was inscribed on the World Heritage List. He indicated, however, that the mining area covered only 800 ha and was actually located outside the boundaries of the World Heritage Site, and that its impact on this site would be minimized in accordance with the results of an impact study which would be announced shortly. The Guinean observer also added that the mining operations would provide jobs for the many refugees whose presence on the site now present a threat to its integrity.

The Committee requested the Secretariat to ask the Guinean authorities in writing to confirm, by means of appropriate cartographic documentation, that the mining project is indeed located outside the site inscribed on the World Heritage List; the Committee also requested the Bureau to reexamine this issue at its next session, in the light of the said documentation.

The Committee also wished to ask the two States Parties which have business interests directly involved in the mining project, namely U.S.A. and France, to examine whether Article 6.3 of the World Heritage Convention might apply to this undertaking.

No draft Decision

Report year: 1990
Côte d'Ivoire Guinea
Date of Inscription: 1981
Category: Natural
Criteria: (ix)(x)
Danger List (dates): 1992-present

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.