China and Jindal Steel and Power (JSPL) have expressed great interest in taking over Liberia’s largest iron ore mine, Wologisi. According to The Hindu Business Line, though the deal has yet to close, it could be worth as much as $2 billion.
In April, Jindal Steel and the Liberian government business began talks. A month later in late may, China voiced interest in exploiting the iron mine, The Hindu Business Line reported. With high unemployment being a major issue in Liberia, the government wants to ensure that the creation of jobs for Liberians is a part of the exploitation deal.
“We keep talking to many people. For iron ore mines, the search is on and we are looking at Africa at the moment but nothing has happened yet,” Ravi Uppal, JSPL Managing Director and CEO said in the report.
Although the company is adamant about securing Wologisi, Uppal explained that JSPL’s options are open. Last year the company acquired Botswana’s CIC Energy Corp, latching onto coal development projects and assets. JSPL is considering the construction of a 150 MW or 175 MW coal-based power plant in Liberia if all goes well with the deal.
According to The Hindu Business Line, if granted the opportunity to takeover Wologisi, JSPL will become one of two Indian iron ore exploitation companies to invest in Liberia. Iron ore producer and exporter Sesa Goa currently holds three mining contracts in the country (Bomi, Mano and Bea), which account for the company’s 51 percent stake in Liberia’s Western Cluster Iron Ore Project.
The Wologisi mine is said to hold a tremendous amount of iron ore reserves — several billions of tonnes the report stated. The exact amount has not yet been confirmed. Earlier this year in February, JSPL canceled plans to acquire iron ore firm Afferro Mining Inc due to elevated costs and low quality magnetite reserves in Cameroon, The Hindu Business Line reported.