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Gold and Diamond Mining:
1957: Diamond fever  


The interest in diamond mining was heightened in the 1950s. This was reflected in the increase in prospecting and mining activities, the growth of the number of Liberians involved in the diamond industry, and the granting of concessions to foreign investors. The major agricultural concessions  generally also had the (exclusive) rights to mine gold, diamonds, oil, or other minerals. However, this acted in the first place as a guarantee against mining companies jeapordizing the investments in large plantations by mining operations within the concession area or on the plantation.

The discovery of important diamond 'fields' along the Lofa river in 1957 culminated in a 'diamond fever' which caused thousands of Liberians to rush to the Lower Lofa river area where the small town of Weasua became the centre. These events disrupted normal production life on the large (foreign-owned) rubber plantations, notably of the Firestone Plantations Company’s Harbel plantation, whose rubber tappers abandoned their work and left for Lofa County (at the time still called the Western Province) in the hope of getting rich quickly.

The fact that they were prevented from settling in Lofa County and were forced to return to their places of employment- although rubber tappers, for instance were employed on a daily basis – adds to the accusation that forced labor was employed on Liberia’s rubber plantations.

Already in the 1920s Firestone's recruitment practices had been criticized. Also see the Christy Report (1930).
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