The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

Western Cluster Commits To Socio-economic Development In Liberia

Western Cluster Limited (WCL), a subsidiary of Sesa Goa, a Vedanta group company in reaction to media report, has recounted its many investment made in Liberian since the signing of the 2011 Mineral Development with government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

The company in a release issued yesterday, January 25, 2023 stated it has approximately US$300 million in the country including payment of US$15.5 million as community development funds contributions.

The company also named the construction of several critical infrastructure projects for the public at large and to ensure positive impact of its operations in the region as well as the 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 infrastructure development initiatives.

However, Western Cluster Limited has been in the news in recent for bad reason after citizens of Bomi County complained that the deal signed between the Liberian government and company was not in the interest of the county as well as it is yet to bring about benefits, be it jobs or development projects, something which they see as disappointing and unfortunate.

They also frowned on the Bomi County Senator, Edwin Melvin Snowe on grounds that he could not prioritize their interest despite being a top ranking member of the Liberian government’s negotiation team that has been engaging the company to resume operations in Bomi, Grand Cape, and Gbarpolu Counties.

But according to the company, in August 2011, it 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,” the release stated.

The Company explained, “Also, as provided by its Mineral Development Agreement, WCL obtained and paid for a 44-acre tract of land at the Freeport 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 company further stated 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.

It added, “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,” the release stated.

“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 release noted.

Meanwhile, the Company further indicated, “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 unpassable 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 release stressed.

“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,” the release intimated.

“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,” the released added.

The company at the same time assured the Liberian Government and people of their commitment to these general principles to facilitate smooth and productive mutual benefits for the Group and the Liberian Government and its people.

Western Cluster Limited (WCL), a subsidiary of Sesa Goa, a Vedanta group company, engaged in iron ore mining in Western Liberia, has reiterated its commitment to contribute to the socio-economic development in the region, through sustainable business operations, community and infrastructure development initiatives.

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.

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.

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