882.6351 U. S. Steel Corp./84: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Liberia (Walton)

61. The United States Steel Corporation has delivered to the Department a confidential copy of its final report covering the reconnaissance survey of Liberia’s iron ore resources, together with a transmitting letter to President Barclay. In view of the uncertainty of the open mails during wartime, at the request of the company the Department has agreed to transmit these documents by official pouch which is expected to leave New York on the Barber Line steamship [Page 629] West Humhaw on December 19. Immediately upon their arrival you should hand the report and its accompanying communication to the President.

The Department notes with regret the engineers’ statement that the outcome of the survey was much less favorable than anticipated and that consequently the United States Steel Corporation is not further interested in Liberia’s mineral deposits. Results of the reconnaissance are summed up in the communication to President Barclay and appear in outline below. For your information, the unusual length of time in completing the report was brought by the Department to the attention of a company official, who explained the unavoidable nature of this delay and expressed his sincere regret. The findings are as follows: (a) no extensive iron ore deposits of high quality were discovered; (b) only a limited amount exists of high grade ore suitable for direct shipment; (c) iron ore concentrates of good quality could be produced from iron formations over a wide region but at a prohibitive cost; (d) zinc, tin, chrome or manganese deposits were not discovered; (e) the possibility exists that iron and other minerals might be encountered through detailed and exhaustive geological examination, but years of work would probably be required to obtain the necessary information and evaluate its economic importance.

The foregoing has been communicated by the Department to the Liberian Consul General in New York, who is prepared to act on any instructions that may be received from his Government with a view to interesting other American companies, such as the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, in the exploitation of Liberia’s known iron ore deposits. We desire, of course, to be as helpful as possible to the Liberian Government in this matter, and will be glad to use our good offices in facilitating the approach of any reputable American interests to the problem. In this connection, we could, for example, on the authorization of President Barclay, make available in strict confidence to the officers of any recognized concern that might seriously entertain the idea of developing the deposits an indication of the results obtained in the investigation just completed, for confidential preliminary guidance.

The Liberian Government undoubtedly realizes that we consider the development of Liberia’s natural resources of much greater importance than the mere participation of American concerns in such an enterprise. In the event, therefore, that no other American company proves to be interested in Liberian iron ore, it would be useful to know whether the Neep organization is still hoping to obtain a concession. It is possible that in the light of developments which have now taken place, Neep might be able to provide satisfactory assurances as to the [Page 630] ownership of its stock and to offer some practical proposal for the exploitation of Liberia’s mineral deposits. We should appreciate a report from you on this subject, on the basis of such discreet inquiries as you may be able to make.