Heritage (Monrovia)

Liberia: GOL On the Verge to Grant Exploration Rights for Wologizi?

Lofa County Representative, Eugene Fallah Kparka, has made a startling revelation that the Government of Liberia (GOL) is "on the verge of granting exploration rights for the Wologizi Mountain" to an Indian Steel Company. Mount Wologizi, which is located in Lofa County, is the largest mountain in Liberia.

Rep. Kparka further revealed that the Liberian government is poised to give exploration rights to Jindal Group without the consent and input of citizens in Lofa County. He alleged that the Chairman of the Board of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), Mr. Robert A. Sirleaf, is leading a government negotiating team along with Jeety Trading Corporation and the Management of Jindal Group for the "control of Liberia's largest iron ore asset."

The Lofa County lawmaker made the revelation on Thursday, May 2, 2013 when he addressed a news conference at his Capitol Office in Monrovia. Speaking further, the Lofa lawmaker averred that over the past several months, many officials of the government visited the Jindal Corporation in India.

But he did not name any of the many government officials he claimed visited the steel company in India. Rep. Kparka mentioned that "effort being mounted by government" for the exploration of Wologizi is not in the interest of Liberia and the citizens of Lofa County.

He said Billions of Mineral Development Agreements (MDAs) had been signed by the Liberian government without "private Liberian equity participation." He accentuated that government granted exploration licenses to companies for little cost, and those companies later sold their licenses for millions of dollars to other multi-national companies at the detriment of the country and its citizens.

Rep. Kparka emphasized : "We have received what appears as credible information that the GOL is on the verge of granting exploration rights for Wologizi Mountain to Jindal Group, an Indian Steel Company. The information also states that Mr. Robert Sirleaf, Chairman of NOCAL is leading a government negotiating team, with Jeety Trading Corporation and the Management of Jindal Group, for the control of Liberia's largest iron ore asset, with an indicative reserve tens of billions of tons. At current market prices, the estimated dollar value of Wologizi Mountain could well be over US$50 Billion Dollars."

Said the Lofa lawmaker: "How was Jindal Group, which is closely aligned with Jetty Corporation, an Indian trader chose to mine the country's probable largest iron ore reserve? What methods were used? Did the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) participate in this process choosing Jindal Group? Who will benefit from this arrangement? Have the people of Lofa County been offered the opportunity to provide free, prior and informed consent to this project?"

The Lofa County lawmaker continued: "As you well know, almost 20 billion tons of iron ore exploration and mineral development agreements have been signed by the GOL over the last ten years without an iota of private Liberian equity participation. Several of these exploration licenses have been granted to companies who repackaged the assets at little cost and sold them for millions of dollars. In one case, Elenilto Mineral and Mining Limited sold 100% of its shares in the Western Cluster Iron Ore Mine for over US$120 without digging one ton of iron ore from their reserves in Bea Mountain, NIOC and Bomi Hills."

He further averred that Mano River Resources sold its shares in the Putu Iron Ore Mountain for over US$200M, while China Union also did the same to Wuhan Iron and Steel Corporation for over US$60M without carrying on any exploration. According to him, the granting of exploration rights to companies without 'Liberians' participation,' and the 'slow action of companies' granted MDAs has brought the Liberian economy "almost to a standstill."

He said the Unity Party(UP) led government must use another 'model of economic revitalization' in the iron ore sector to ensure that Liberians are 'owners of their natural resources.'

He assured that the citizens of Lofa County and Liberia in general would resist any attempt by government to mortgage Mount Wologizi to the Indian Company without the consent and input of the citizenry.

Meanwhile, Mr. Robert Sirleaf and others could not be reached for comments up to press time regarding the claims by Rep. Kparka.

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