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GeneralLiberia news

China Union under spotlight

-Amidst ongoing strike

By Bridgett Milton

The House of Representatives is expected to investigate Chinese mining firm, China Union, for alleged failure to live up to Mineral Development Agreement.

The House’s decision followed a communication sent to plenary by Bong County Electoral District # 7 Representative, Foday Fahnbulleh.

The move comes amidst reports of strike action by over 80 employees of the Chinese mining company over what they described as bad labor practice.

Meanwhile, according to Rep. Fahnbulleh, China Union (Hong Kong) Mining Company Limited and China Union Investment (Liberia Bong Mines Company Limited since entering into a Mineral Development Agreement on January 19, 2009, as a result of a general solicitation for bid proposals for the exploration and mining of iron ore issued by the Government of Liberia on January 23, 2008 in a document called the Bong Range Tender, has refused to live up to its social corporate responsibilities.

He explains the MDA, among other things, provides for the Concessionaire to conduct a Social Impact Assessment, develop a Social Action Plan, implement a Skills and Technology Development Plan, and renovate all existing roads in the concession areas, including renovating, extending, and building the Kakata to Heindi Road.

“The Concessionaire, in keeping with the MDA is also responsible for providing an annual social contribution of US$3.5 million to communities within the concession area, providing a general education funding of US$250,000.00 annually for scholarships, and operation of a Mining and Geology Institute at the University of Liberia.

Also, the MDA provides for the employment of 70% Liberians within the ten most senior positions within the Concessionaire in ten years. Under the MDA, the Concessionaire is expected to generate 230MW of electricity with 130MW being produced from a Hydro-Power Plan on the St. Paul River near Heindi.

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 In addition to these, the Concessionaire is expected to operate and maintain an up-to-standard health facility within the concession area as well as pay a land rental fee of US$100,000.00 in the first ten years and US$250,000.00 per year for the next fifteen years”, he says.

He continues that since the effective date of the MDA, the Concessionaire has conducted operations within the concession area including Bong Mines which falls within his district. January 19, 2024, marked the 15th anniversary of the MDA.

But he notes that regrettably, the terms of the MDA have not been respected and the Kakata to Heindi Road remains uncompleted; St. Paul flows without a Hydro Power Plant, and the medical facility and scholarships among other issues remain a mirage, least to mention, the employment quota and conditions of Liberians per the MDA have not been respected and for ten years from now, the MDA will mark its 25th year which should end the terms of the agreement.

He says as Liberia begins to turn a new chapter through accountability and adequate representation, it is high time to ensure that all corporate deals specifically those ratified by the National Legislature are adequately monitored and implemented for the benefit of the people and the state.

Fahnbulleh is calling on the plenary to invite the China Union to provide an update on the implementation of the MDA and its plan for the remaining 10 years of the MDA.

The House has mandated its committees on Investment & Concession, Mine & Energy, Contract Monopolies, Judiciary, Good Governance, and Labor to probe China Union Mining Company Limited and China Union Investment. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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