China’s Baowu Group-backed Bao Chico Resources Liberia Company completed its first shipment of iron ore from the Bong mine area this week.
A bulk carrier loaded with 45,000 tonnes of iron ore set sail from the BMC terminal at the Freeport of Monrovia, the capital of Liberia.
These products are from a 1.5 million tonnes/year dry grinding mill at the Bong mine in central Liberia.
The Liberian government was expected to grant a 25-year “A-level” iron ore mining license to the China’s Baowu Group-backed Bao Chico Resources Liberia Company, after it has asked the Government of Liberia to grant it a 25-year Class A mining license to extract iron ore.
The company’s request, which President George Weah has bought into, has been communicated to members of the legislature for ratification despite the record of China Union, another Chinese iron ore mining concessionaire, which struggled to make an impact and, in a space of few years, shut down its operations, one local newspaper reported.
The US$2.6 billion agreement, which was signed with the China Union in 2009 under the administration of then-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to excavate iron ore from the country’s former Bong Mines, did not go as planned, as the company remains shut down since 2014.
Since then, the iron ore concession – the area where the ore mining was done – only boasts of idle machines gathering rust. The company, according to its management, had to close due to the fall in the global price of iron ore and the impacts of Ebola in 2014. The 25-year agreement was expected to generate between 3,000 to 4,000 jobs with an additional 15,000 indirectly, but it hardly happened, the paper reported.
The Legislature had started the process of ratifying another Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) with a Chinese Company, Bao Chico Resources Liberia Limited.
On their 59th day sitting August 31, members of the House of Representatives voted unanimously to forward the 25-year MDA to the Committees on Investment, Mines & Energy, Judiciary and Ways, Means, Finance & Development Planning to scrutinize and report to the August Body within one week.
It is not clear whether the agreement was rectified before the first export of the ores was made recently.