Liberia: Bong Range Out for U.S.$1.6 Billion Bid
June 2, 2008
June 2nd (All Africa) – Four international mining companies have expressed interest in operating the Bong Range iron ore deposit, formerly Bong Mines, the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy has disclosed.
Last week, the Ministry opened the sealed bids for the exploration of the Bong Range iron ore deposit with four bidders contesting. The bidders include Vandanta Resources PLC from India, China Union Investment Ltd.; a Liberian company, Beleh Resources Company, Liberia Ltd., and an Israeli Firm, BSG Resources.
The opening program was attended by the Chairman of the cabinet, Internal Affairs Minister Ambulai Johnson; National Investment Commission Chairman Richard Tolbert; Central Bank Governor Dr. Mills Jones as well as the Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy Dr. Eugene Shannon, among others. According to Dr. Shannon, the investment into the Bong Range is estimated at US$1.6 billion.
“We are responding to the economic pillar where we continue to bring in more resources to reverse the migration pattern as well as resolve the crisis of migration from rural to urban areas,” the Minister said, adding “This city that now accommodates 1.6 million people was made for 360,000. To have these people go back, we have to create centers for economic activities.”
The head of the Inter-ministerial Mineral Technical Committee (IMMTC), Ernest C.B. Jones said the bidders were requested to submit two sealed envelopes.
The bidders’ package marked “A” contained all technical, financial and marketing proposals, while another marked “B” contained the pledge of the amount the bidder would offer government to mine the Bong Range iron deposits.
Mr. Jones disclosed that the IMMTC have received pledges up to US$15 million as signatures upon winning the bid. Mr. Jones said the Inter-ministerial Technical Committee is expected to take up to two months to review the bid documents. According to him, whoever wins the concession will become the third over US$1 billion investment institution after Arcelor Mittal.
Recently, a South African Firm, Delta Mining Company, was selected as winner of the controversial Western Cluster bid earlier this year.
Early this year, opposition politician Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh criticized the procedural pattern of the western cluster that led to the selection of Delta mining.
In a statement at the occasion, NIC Chairman Richard Tolbert termed the bid for Bong Range as a ‘sign of confidence’ that international investors have in Liberia for the ‘transparency’ of the government and the proficiency of the mining sector.
“Few years ago, very few companies were interested in coming to Liberia for any type of investment. Today, we see major companies from all over the world expressing interest in the resources such as Bong Mines. This is truly a positive sign of investors’ confidence in the investment climate,” Mr. Tolbert said.