Liberia: House Probes China Union for Alleged MDA Violation

House Speaker Cllr. Fonati Koffa.

The House of Representatives is investigating Chinese mining giant, China Union, for alleged gross violations of the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) ranging from roads, medical facilities, safe drinking water, and scholarships, among other basic services.

The House’s Plenary Tuesday unanimously voted for the Committees on Investment & Concession, Mines & Energy, Contract Monopolies, Judiciary, Good Governance, and Labor to probe and report within two weeks.

The House’s decision was triggered by a communication from Rep. Foday Fahnbulleh of Bong County District #7, to Speaker J. Fonati Koffa, which was read and discussed in Tuesday’s session.

Rep. Fahnbulleh said January 19, 2024, marked the 15th anniversary of the operations of China Union in Liberia, but most of the MDA has not been upheld, which puts China Union in complete violation.

“Regrettably, Hon. Speaker and Distinguished Colleagues, the terms of the MDA have not been respected. The Kakata to Haindii Road remains uncompleted; St. Paul flows without a hydropower plant; and the medical facility and scholarships, among other issues, remain a mirage. Least to mention, the employment quota and conditions of Liberians per the MDA have not been respected. Ten years from now, the MDA will mark its 25th year which should end the terms of the agreement,” Rep. Fahnbulleh said.

The Bong County lawmaker said China Union is deliberately refusing to conduct a Social Impact Assessment, develop a Social Action Plan, implement a Skills and Technology Development Plan, and renovate all existing roads in the concession areas including renovating, extending and building the Kakata to Haindii Road. 

Rep. Fahnbulleh further said that China Union, in keeping with the MDA, is falling short of the annual social contribution of US$3.5 million to communities within the concession area; the  provision of general education funding of US$250,000 annually for scholarships, and operation of a Mining and Geology Institute at the University of Liberia. 

“Also, the MDA provides for the employment of 70% Liberians within the ten most senior positions within the Concessionaire in ten years. Under the MDA, the Concessionaire is expected to generate 230MW of electricity with 130MW being produced from a Hydro-Power Plant on the St. Paul River near Haindii, but none of these, among other things mentioned in the MDA, are being upheld according to the MDA,” Rep. Fahnbulleh told the press.

“In addition to these, the concessionaire is expected to operate and maintain an up-to- standard health facility within the concession area, as well as pay a land rental fee of US$100,000.00 in the first ten years and US$250,000.00 per year for the next fifteen years, but unfortunately it is not.”

Rep. Fahnbulleh concluded: “Hon. Speaker and Distinguished Colleagues, as we begin to turn a new chapter in our nation’s history through accountability and adequate representation, it is high time that we as the people’s representatives ensure that all corporate deals, specifically those ratified by the National Legislature, are adequately monitored, and implemented to the benefit of the people and the state. Hence, I am imploring you to take advantage of this MDA and ensure the following: Invite China Union to provide an update on the implementation of the MDA and its plan for the remaining 10 years of the MDA; and invite the Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy, Minister of Finance and Development Planning, National Investment Commission, and Minister of Labor.”