Re- Bidding on Western Cluster iron-ore project, DO OVER
Delta, Tata Cleared to Re-Bid in $1.6 Billion Project (Update1)
By Ansu Konneh
Nov. 24 (Bloomberg) -- A Liberian panel ruled that Delta Mining Consolidated Ltd. and Tata Steel Ltd. may join a re- bidding process for the $1.6 billion Western Cluster iron-ore project.
The Investigative Panel of Liberia's Public Procurement and Concession Commission gave Johannesburg-based Delta and India's Tata permission to participate in the new bid after both were disqualified by the Liberian government on Sept.15 from developing the project. The decision was taken because the initial bidding process may have been compromised by ``external influence or impropriety,'' Information Minister Lawrence Bropleh said Sept. 19.
Lizane van Rooyen, a legal representative for Delta, said today a statement will be released in the next two days. Bob Jones, a spokesman for Tata, wasn't able to comment immediately when called in London today.
On Oct. 2, Delta sent an e-mailed statement to Liberia's media stating that it had written to Bropleh demanding retraction of his ``defamatory allegations, specifically that DMC and its personnel engaged in alleged unethical conduct in relation to the Western Cluster Iron Ore mining concession.'' Delta also threatened to take the government to court.
The decision to rule in favor of the companies was taken after considering the complaint filed by Delta, Nathan Bengu, director of communication at the commission, said in an interview in the capital, Monrovia today. It ordered the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy on November 1 to stay all re-bidding for at least two weeks to allow it time to review the matter, he said.
Liberia's Information Minister Laurence Bropleh, when called by Bloomberg News today, said he not seen the ruling and would respond once he had.
Liberia is trying to develop its iron ore deposits and diversify away from rubber, which accounted for 88 percent of the country's exports of $104 million in 2005.
The so-called Western Cluster iron ore project consists of three deposits and two idled mines. Iron ore once accounted for 64 percent of Liberia's exports, according to Delta's Web site. The company proposed developing mines on the Mano River, Bomi and Bea deposits to produce 20 million metric tons of the steelmaking raw material a year.
The mines on the deposits closed in 1976 and 1985 and their equipment was sold as scrap during the civil war.
ArcelorMittal, Sinosteel Corp., Cia. Vale do Rio Doce and companies named as Xing Xing Group and Bahlodi Africa also submitted offers in the initial tender process with Sinosteel's bid coming in second, Bropleh said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Ansu Konneh in Monrovia via Johannesburg at firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Updated: November 24, 2008 10:47 EST
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