MONROVIA – Amid the issues generated in the aftermath of the Memorandum of Understanding(MOU) signed between the government of Liberia and the Western Cluster Limited(WCL) which borders on determining whether the deal was beneficial to the country, the concessionaire which is a subsidiary of Sesa Goa, a Vedanta Group Company, has reiterated its commitment to contribute to the socio-economic development in the region, through sustainable business operations, community and infrastructure development initiatives, stressing that since 2011, it has invested approximately US$300m in the country, including payment for the concession rights and USD15.5m payment to community development fund.
In a press release issued by the company yesterday, January 25, 2025, while naming other projects executed as part of its Corporate Social Responsibilities which included construction of two major bridges- the Klay Junction Bridge and the Gui Town Bridge, upgrading and maintaining the Tubmanburg to St. Paul River Bridge Road and several other communities and infrastructural development also stated that WCL is also working on generating direct and indirect employment opportunities for the locals, across its core and allied business functions and generating collateral investment opportunities for Liberians.
The release maintained that Vedanta Limited is a multi-billion-dollar mineral resource company and its operations are spread in several countries. The operations of Vedanta Limited are strictly consistent with fundamental principles of good corporate governance with utmost focus on inclusive growth.
The release historicized the genesis of WCL’s entry in the country stating that the company entered into a Mineral Development Agreement with the Liberian Government for the iron ore mine in and about Tubmanburg, Bomi County, the iron ore mine close to Mano River Congo in Cape Mount, and the iron ore deposit in Bea Mountain, also in Cape Mount.
“After submitting its Feasibility Study, WCL applied for Class A Mining License to start operations at the Bomi mines; but that permission was not granted before the 2014 Ebola Virus outbreak. WCL also requested for road permit to start the transport of iron ore from the Bomi mines, as provided by its Mineral Development Agreement; but that permit was not granted before the 2014 Ebola Virus outbreak. Also, as provided by its Mineral Development Agreement, WCL obtained and paid for a 44-acre tract of land at the Free Port for storage of its iron ore before shipment. However, the Ebola Virus outbreak suspended the operations of WCL in Liberia and the Covid-19 pandemic caused the extension of that suspension”, the release said.
The release further said that in 2022 WCL sought to resume its operations and to facilitate its resumption of operations, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was executed between WCL and the Liberian Government, pending the negotiation of an amendment to the Mineral Development Agreement. The release said the Mineral Development Agreement provides for its amendment due to profound change in circumstances. The Amendment will therefore consider all the profound changes, which have occurred since the Mineral Development Agreement was signed in August 2011 and one of these profound changes, among others, is that Vedanta Limited now owns 100% of WCL.
“This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which is a temporary instrument that does not affect the Mineral Development Agreement, has been misrepresented in the media for various baseless and unfounded reasons.
“What is important to note is that under no parity of reasoning could WCL resume its operations after several years of suspension without an enabling intermediate agreement with the Liberian Government. The MOU is that enabling intermediate agreement; and pursuant to the MOU, WCL has provided additional monetary contribution to upgrade and maintain the Tubmanburg to St. Paul River Bridge road, which was virtually impassable before. Also pursuant to the MOU, another payment of US$5 million was made for community development for Cape Mount County, Gbarpolu County and Bomi County. And further pursuant to the MOU, the road permit was granted by the Ministry of Public Works and the Class A Mining License was granted by the Ministry of Mines and Energy after a second and more contemporary review of the Feasibility Study”, the statement said.
“Vedanta Limited and its subsidiary, WCL, are committed to working with the Liberian Government and its people for the mutual benefit of all sides; and we affirm our commitment to work within the framework of the original Mineral Development Agreement, its amendments and any other rules and regulations, which relates to our operations in Liberia. 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.
“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.
“Those officials of the Liberian Government who worked with us and continue to work with us for this restart of our operations were and continue to be vigilant in ensuring that the Liberian Government and people are treated fairly, while strictly adhering to Liberian law, our Mineral Development Agreement and principles of the iron ore industry. 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 release concluded.