Says the company has never been interested in the Putu iron ore project since it divested from Afferro Resources, which owned the project
The Solway Mining Inc, a new mining company currently exploring for iron ore in the Blei and Dehton Mountains in upper Nimba, along with its Swiss Investment Group partner, has denounced any link with Russia as partners or shareholders in any of its operations around the world as it was insinuated in the media recently.
The Solway Investment Group, a multinational mining company, is an international private mining and metal group headquartered in Switzerland with global operations.
According to the Chief Operations Officer, Mr. Alford Morgan, the Solway Investment Group is owned by German and Estonian citizens and has never had Russian citizens amongst its owners.
“The allegation that any of Solway’s shareholders might have connections with the so-called “inner circles” of Russian politicians is a manipulative suggestion aimed at damaging the company’s reputation,” he said.
“The Solway Group once had a joint venture with the private equity fund, Aterra Capital, an institution affiliated with Alexey Mordashov. Aterra Capital (independent of Solway) invests in dozens of international projects around the world, with a focus on commodities including copper, silver, phosphates, zinc, lead, diamonds, and uranium,” he said.
Mr. Morgan said in 2014, together with Solway, Attera Capital jointly entered a copper and gold project in Argentina. In 2019, Solway Group acquired 100% control over the project through a transparent and arms-length transaction between independent parties.
“Together, the above-mentioned companies also made another minor investment into an early-stage copper exploration property in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Both groups own less than 15% of this project,” he explained. “None of Solway’s shareholders has ever participated in business or private meetings with Alexey Mordashov himself,” he said.
He explained that the management of the joint venture was created and the communication between Solway and Aterra Capital was conducted by their respective project management teams and authorized officers without the personal involvement of the owners.
Mr. Morgan also said, “The allegations that Solway is quietly eyeing the acquisition of the Putu iron ore mine and is reportedly engaging the Government of Liberia are baseless misrepresentations.”
The Chief Operations Officer also explained that many years ago, Solway was a minor shareholder in Afferro Resources, the former owner of the Putu project and Liberty Gold Mine. Later, Afferro Resources was split into its iron ore and gold businesses.
“Solway sold all of its shares in Afferro Resources around the date of the division of the company’s assets and since then, the company has never been interested in the Putu project, nor has the company entered into discussions with either Severstal or the Government of Liberia over this asset,” said Mr. Morgan in a release.
He reiterated that Solway is not aware of the current state of the Putu project and has no information regarding any development plans. Solway is also not engaged in any activities with any companies that have a relationship with the Putu project.
Mr. Alford Morgan, in response to a number of publications in the press about his company, disputed all the allegations leveled against the company, adding, “The suggestion that the Solway Investment Group is actively engaging the Government of Liberia while using the name “Fenix Mining” to pass as a U.S. company is a falsehood communicated with the purpose of jeopardizing Solway’s reputation.”
“Historically,” Mr. Morgan said, “the name “Fenix Project” referred to Solway’s nickel property in Guatemala”, but within the Group’s current corporate structure, this nickel project is now operated by the Compania Guatemalteca de Nickel (CGN). CGN does not have any business activities outside of Guatemala, nor is it officially or unofficially linked to any business(es) in Liberia.”
The Solway Investment Group is a Swiss-based business operating globally, with mining and metals assets and operations in Russia, as well as in North Macedonia, Ukraine, Indonesia, Guatemala, Argentina, and now, Liberia. “In every country of our operations, Solway always works in cooperation with the local authorities and the Swiss diplomatic mission for the mutual benefit of the regional economies and local communities in full compliance with national laws and international best practice,” he concluded.
On July 22, 2020, the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Mines and Energy, presented Solway Mining Inc. to the citizens of Nimba, especially those of upper Nimba in Zor Clans in Sanniquellie and Gbehlay-Geh districts at a ceremony. The occasion was held at the football stadium in the provincial capital, Sanniquellie. Presenting the new company, Deputy Mines and Energy Minister for Operations, Emmanuel O. Sherman, told the citizens that the government has licensed a company known as “SOLWAY Mining Inc.” to carry on mining exploration in the northeastern part of Nimba, precisely on two mountains in the Gbar and Zor Community Forest.
He stated that the operational period for the exploration license is three years, and if the investor or the company is satisfied with the exploration results, in terms of profitability, then the government will reach a Mineral Development Agreement for actual mining activities.
“SOLWAY Mining Inc has a legitimate mining license issued by the government to carry on exploration, as ArcelorMittal Liberia also has legitimate license to mine iron ore for 25 years,” the Minister said at the time of the program.
“During the presentation, Min. Sherman made it unequivocally clear that the concession area given to SOLWAY Mining Inc. does not fall under ArcelorMittal’s mining zone, calling on the citizens to cooperate and respect the agreement between the government and SOLWAY Mining Inc for the mineral exploration.
“Government is under obligation to protect the rights of AML and SOLWAY Mining in their mining activities, and neither of these companies has the right to stop the other from working, except the Government of Liberia,” Morgan said.
It may be recalled that a few months ago ArcelorMittal attempted raising concerns about Solway’s operation on the Blei and Dehton Mountains, but when contacted, the management of AML said it was respecting the agreement between it and the government and was talking the issue over with the government. Dehton and Blei are not too far from the operational area of Mittal, something that may be the basis for Mittal to have the thought of claiming ownership of the two mountains.