Africa-Press – Liberia. The parent company of Western Cluster Liberia has expressed its readiness to operate within the framework of its mineral development agreement (MDA) as well as any other rules and regulations as may be required by the country.
Western Cluster Liberia, which is owned by Vedanta Resources PLC, an Indian multibillion-dollar corporation, has been under pressure of late to honor the terms of its 25-year contract for the mineral-rich Bomi Hills mines, which the company ignored but resumed operation through a contentious MoU signed with the government in 2022.
The MoU, which has been beset by a wave of negative reviews, saw the company’s debt of US$23.5 million canceled by the administration of President George Weah for US$10 million — something that angered locals in the concession areas who are now threatening strike actions.
The threat, however, appears to have worked, prompting Western Cluster to issue a statement pledging to uphold the terms of the MDA, which includes several benefits for the three project counties.
“We affirm our commitment to work within the framework of the original Mineral Development Agreement, its amendments, and any other rules and regulations, which relate to our operations in Liberia,” Vedanta and WCL said in a statement early this week.
The statement was the first from the company since resuming mining operations in 2022. Western Cluster ceased mining operations in 2011, returning nearly 12 years later, claiming that certain supervening circumstances forced it to suspend operations that year after acquiring the full rights to the Bomi Hills mine from Elenilto in a deal worth close to US$100 million.
But this time, Western Cluster and its parent company are assuring Liberians that they are ready to comply with and abide by all applicable laws, which control or cover its mining operations, especially the Decent Work Act so that maximum opportunity will be given to Liberians for training and employment.
According to Vedanta, they are also committed to the development drive of Liberia and improving the livelihoods of the Liberian people, especially those in its operation areas.
Western Cluster is expected to mine 30 million tons of iron ore annually from its Bomi Hills mine, which is also rich in quartz, hematite, magnetite, and other minerals.
Vedanta Resources is an Indian diversified mining company headquartered in London, United Kingdom, and the largest mining and non-ferrous metals company in India and has mining operations in Australia and Zambia and oil and gas operations in three countries.
The company began operation last year via its Sesa Goa iron ore business and has since emerged as one of the largest and most sustainable iron ore producers in Western Africa. It will focus strongly on innovation, green technologies, socio-economic upliftment of communities at large, and most importantly community development initiatives.
It has mining concessions rights to the Bomi, Bea, and Mano mines situated in Western Liberia, a region that is notorious for its high poverty rate. According to Vedanta, mining operations will commence from the Bomi mine which is very well connected to the Freeport of Monrovia from where it can cater to any international markets.
“We are committed to working with the Liberian Government and its people for the mutual benefit of all sides,” the company’s statement said.
“We wish to also assure the Liberian Government and people of our commitment to comply with and abide by all applicable laws, which control or cover our mining operations, especially the Decent Work Act so that maximum opportunity will be given to Liberians for training and employment.”
The company noted that if allegations of transgression or violation of any Liberian laws or regulations are proven, it will launch an internal investigation so that the appropriate remedies are made.
“Wherever there is any allegation of transgression or violation of any law or regulation, we wish to assure you that we will conduct thorough internal reviews and that appropriate remedial action, where required, will be immediately taken.
“We wish to assure the Liberian Government and people that we are prepared to institute corrective measures to ensure that the Liberian Government and no person stands at a loss, injury, or any inconvenience by our operations.
“We wish to assure the Liberian Government and people of our commitment to these general principles to facilitate smooth and productive mutual benefits for our Group and the Liberian Government and its people,” the statement said.
The Western cluster iron ore deposit was first acquired by Elenilto Minerals & Mining LLC, Delaware (Elenilto), who then established Western Cluster Liberia as a wholly-owned subsidiary before selling it to Sesa Goa, a subsidiary of Vedanta Resources PLC, in 2011 under the administration of the President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf without throwing a shovel.
The Western Cluster ore deposits lie in Bomi Hills, Bea Mountain, and Mano River, in the country’s western region, which is known for its high poverty rate. The Bomi Hills deposit was once owned by the former Liberia Mining Company (LMC), which ceased work in 1990.
Similarly, this is the case of the Mano River deposit, which was once owned by the former National Iron Ore Company (NIOC), which also ceased operation in 1990. The Bea River deposit remains unmined.
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