Wednesday, November 26, 2008

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.

Complaint Filed

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

Last Updated: November 24, 2008 10:47 EST
copyright 2008 BLOOMBERG L.P.


Monday, November 03, 2008

Chinafrica (21) Watching for PRC Influence in Africa

China prepares to increase special cooperation zones in Africa to ten

[ 2008-11-03 ] MacauHub

Beijing, China, 3 Nov – China is preparing to double from five to ten the number of special cooperation zones to be set up in Africa, according to the director of African Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, quoting diplomatic sources.

“The number of special economic zones in Africa could reach 10, according to what a high ranking Chinese diplomat with responsibility for the African continent told me recently,” He Wenping told Macauhub, during a conference in Lisbon on relations between China and African countries.
If Beijing’s confirms this, she puts Cape Verde at the top of the list to receive one of these zones, which Chinese president Hu Jintao promised to establish in Africa by 2010.

In November 2006 in Beijing, at the summit of heads of state and leaders of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, Hu promised that in the three years following five economic cooperation zones in Africa would be established, to strengthen what he called “the Sino-African partnership.”

“Given the positive response to the idea from African governments, China is seriously considering increasing the number of zones, as there were more than five countries interested,” said He Wenping.

In February 2006 China created the first special cooperation zone in Chambishi in the iron ore exploration area of Zambia. Chinese authorities then announced a second on the Mauritius Islands off the West African coast, and most observers expect the third to be in the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam.

In the running for the two remaining areas are Cape Verde, Nigeria, Liberia and Egypt, hoping for the growth in their respective economies that one of these zones would bring, that China calls economic and commercial “lungs” spread across the African continent and linked via roads, railways and sea routes.

“The Chinese objective is to share our experience of development with African countries and help them, with an economic growth pattern which includes exporting goods and products that China needs,” said He Wenping, who compared trade relations between China and African countries to the relationship that used to exist between the Chinese economy and the USA.
“The most important factor for Africa's development is the opportunities of the Chinese market, just as those the American market provided for China. This is the future for African development,” she said.

At the end of 2007, the Chinese ambassador in Cape Verde said that there was a strong possibility that the island of S.Vicente would host a special cooperation zone, given the quality of Cape Verdean infrastructures.

The Zambian project, where Beijing has promised an investment of US$ 800 million is seen as the blueprint for future special zones. Through tax exemption, the aim is to attract Chinese companies to these areas, which would help to develop light industries, trade and services, thus creating new jobs in Chambishi.

Beijing has promised an investment of around US$500 million to the Mauritius Islands, as well as the creation of 7,500 jobs and export revenue of over US$200 million a year. (macauhub) Copyright © 2005 MacauHub