Lofa Citizens Resist Wologisi Negotiation

By Alva M. Wolokolie

Lofa County District #1 Representative, Eugene Fallah Kparkar, has asked the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration to use another model of economic revitalization in the iron ore industry to ensure that Liberians are owners of their natural resource assets.

Anything to the contrary, he warned will meet the fullest resistance of the people of Lofa and the Liberian people at large.

Rep. Kparkar who has been elected for the second time by his people to the 53rd National Legislature on the ticket of the opposition Liberty Party (LP) of defeated Presidential candidate Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskin, raised an alarm during the weekend over what he assumed are credible information received by him leaking the government’s arrangement to give out the Wologizi Mountain situated in his county (Lofa) to Jindal Group, an Indian steel Company.

Addressing legislative reporters at his Capitol Building office, Rep. Kparkar said the government of Liberia is on the verge of granting exploration rights to the company without any participation of the county stakeholders.

The Lofa County lawmaker also claimed that Mr. Robert Sirleaf, Chairman of the Board of the National Oil Company (NOCAL) and son of President Sirleaf is leading a government’s negotiation team, with Jetty Trading Corporation and the management of Jindal Group, for control of Liberia’s largest iron ore asset.

The Wologizi Mountain is believed to have an indicative reserve of tens of billions of tons with a cash value of 50 billion dollars at current market price.

“We in Lofa consider this action by this administration not to be in the best interest of Liberia and the people of Lofa County. As we all know, almost 20 billion tons of iron ore exploration and mineral development agreements have been signed by the government of Liberia over the past ten years without an iota of private Liberian equity participation,” Rep. Fallah Kparkar said.

He did not disclose how the people of Lofa and Liberia will resist the exploration rights of the Wologizi Mountain but is reminding the government to ensure that Liberians are owners of their natural resource assets.

Kparkar who contested the Deputy Speaker seat of this 53rd National Legislature but was defeated alleged that several exploration licenses have been granted to foreign companies but the companies have instead re-packaged the assets at little cost and sold them for hundreds of millions of dollars.

For example, Elenito Mineral and Mining Limited, the lawmaker alleged that the company sold 100% of its share in the Western Cluster Iron Ore Mine for over US$120 million without digging one ton of iron ore from their reserves in the Bea Mountain, NIOC and Bomi Hills.

“The callous granting of exploration rights without local content and the participation of Liberian private equity as well as the slow action of companies granted mineral development agreement, has brought the Liberian economy almost to a standstill; the economic revitalization envisioned in the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) has not resulted in the revitalization of the Liberian Economy,” Kparkar claimed.

The lawmaker however clarified that his position that he is not against the idea of exploring the mountain but what he is interested in, is for the right thing to be done the right way which he believes would make positive impact on the lives of the people.

“Let the government get the involvement of chiefs, elders, youths and stakeholders of the county before going ahead with any further negotiation to give out the mountain,” he emphasized.

Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) is one of India’s major steel producers in Mining; Power Generation and Infrastructural Sectors.

JSPL is a part of the US$ 18 billion diversified O. P. Jindal Group and is consistently tapping new opportunities by increasing production capacity, diversifying investments, and leveraging its core capabilities to venture into new businesses.

The company has committed investments exceeding US$ 30 billion in the future and has several business initiatives running simultaneously across continents.

Mr. Naveen Jindal, the youngest son of the legendary Shri O. P. Jindal spearheads JSPL and its group companies.

The company produces economical and efficient steel and power through backward and forward integration.

From the widest flat products to a whole range of long products, JSPL today sports a product portfolio that caters to varied needs in the steel market.

The company also has the distinction of producing the world’s longest 121 meter rails and large size parallel flange beams for the first time in India.

In India, JSPL operates the largest coal-based sponge iron plant in the world and has an installed capacity of 3 MTPA of steel at Raigarh in Chhattisgarh.

With a 0.6 MTPA wire rod mill and a one million ton capacity bar mill at Patratu, Jharkhand, a medium and light structural mill at Raigarh, Chhattisgarh and a plate mill to produce up to 5.00 meter wide plates at Angul, Odisha.

The company aims for a fast-paced growth so as to contribute substantially to India’s long term prosperity.