Leading Exporter of Iron Denies Entering Investment Agreement with Liberia

MONROVIA, Montserrado – The fourth leading exporter of iron ore in the World, Fortescue Metals Group Limited, has apparently denied entering into an agreement to invest in Liberia.

Business news platform Bloomberg reported on Thursday that the company’s chief executive officer Elizabeth Gaines made the clarification on Thursday in a statement.

The clarification followed a government announcement on Monday that it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a joint corporation of Fortescue Metals Group and Al Maktoum Company on Sunday, July 14.

According to the government, Andrew Forrest, the company’s billionaire chairman, witnessed the signing ceremony and expressed delight for the smooth kickoff of the investment discussions between his party and the government.

“I am here to grow your economy. I am here to grow your social services and to grow the standard of living of the Liberian people,” the government quoted Forrest.

The Executive Mansion also noted that the United Arab Emirates’ Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Juma Al Maktoum of Al Maktoum Company signed for the investors, while Liberia’s Mines and Energy Minister, Gesler E. Murray signed for the government.

The government said the investors, as part of the agreement, would upgrade the existing railways in Buchanan and subsequently build new railways from Guinea to the Port of Buchanan without a cost to the government.

It said the signing of the MOU was also part of a series of international engagements fostered by President George Weah in recent months.

However, Bloomberg said Fortescue’s CEO Gaines said the company’s chairman had only attended meetings in Liberia with officials, including with Weah, to discuss philanthropic work and potential future economic and development opportunities.

She further clarified that talks during the meeting were introductory and that the Australian company has not entered into any specific commitments.

“Fortescue is not a party to any agreement with the Liberian government,” she said, adding the producer also doesn’t have any base in the West African region.

Gbatemah Senah

Gbatemah is a graduate of the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. In 2017, Senah won three Press Union of Liberia awards: Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Land Rights Reporter of the Year. In 2018, he was also recognized as the Land Rights Reporter of the Year.

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