The Management of China Union Liberia Investment working at the former Bong Mining Company has finally turned over the Bong Mines Hospital to the Liberian Government to continue providing medical services to the people of Bong Mines and its surrounding areas in Fuamah District, Lower Bong County.
Quoting a press release issued over the weekend exclusively to the Liberia News Agency, the management of China Union said in Line with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) they signed with authorities of the Ministry of Health in Monrovia, the company is to pay off all 82 health workers working at the hospital their due benefits as required by the labor laws of Liberia.
China Union Liberia Investment Mining Company took over from the former Bong Mining concession previously operated by the Germans following the end of the country’s civil crisis in 2003.
The Germans had to quit mining activities during the height of the civil crisis that lasted for over 14 years and devastated every sector of the Liberian economy.
The company entered into a 25-year Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) to the tune of US$2.6 Billion in 2010, but up to date, it has been grappling with difficulties to maintain the concession following the sharp decline of iron ore on the world market.
“Between 2010 and 2013, the price per ton of iron ore plummeted from US$125 to as low as US$39, the lowest price ever to hit the iron market in the world,” read the company’s press release quoted by LINA Margibi County correspondent.
“About eight months now, we have not carried out any production of iron needless to ship ore from the country,” China Union management stated further in the release.
When the price of iron ore started to decline, Putu Iron Mining Company immediately announced closure of mining activities and pulled out, while ArcelorMittal and Sesa Gowa (Western Cluster) Mining Company located in Nimba and Grand Cape Mount counties remain operational at a very low level.
The Bong Mines Hospital is part of the concession constructed by the former Bong Mining Company in the early sixties, which catered to its workers and their dependents.
In paying the health workers at the hospital over the weekend in Bong Mines, China Union said it was constrained to take such a difficult decision due to the sharp decline of the price of iron ore on the world market.
The Management said as a result of the low price of iron ore, it cannot cope with the high cost associated with running the hospital.
China Union management further stated that it was aware of the situation it will pose to the health needs of the residents, but was compelled to take such an austerity measure to save it from incurring any further expenses that it will not be in the position to underwrite.
The release stated that China Union however hopes to take over the affairs of the hospital when it resumes full mining activities in the future when the price of iron becomes good enough for it to continue operations on the Bong range.