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The condition of Bong Mines is still in a sorry state despite China Union’s declared readiness to begin the first shipment of iron ore from there in six months.
There are reports that basic mining infrastructure and heavy machinery have not been installed in Bong Mines for operation of the US$2.8 million mining agreement between government and China Union.
The 20-mile highway linking Bong Mines connecting with Bong Mines is in disrepair and needs rehabilitation, while the only hospital in Bong Mines, also serving inhabitants of the entire Fuamah District, lacks essential drugs, and the lack of instructional materials and qualified teachers is intrinsic for the district school system.
Land and Mines Minister Patrick Sendolo told New Democrat Monday that iron ore shipment from Bong Mines would help government to generate revenues and bring development to inhabitants in Fuamah District in lower Bong County.
According to our reporter, who just returned from the area, many social development obligations remain unattended to by China Union as camps damaged during the war still remain in ruins.
Bong Town that accommodated staff employees in prewar times remain virtually swallowed by bushes, making the area a den for snakes and rodents.
In reply to government’s stance should China Union renege on its social development obligations to the local population, Mr. Sendolo, asserted: “I think you are right because there are lots of social obligations on the ground that have to be addressed.”
He added, “It is a question of how can we move on the one hand to ensure that the concessionaire (China Union) is moving along; and on the other hand, ensure that the government is benefiting so that revenues are coming in, and in that way, we will be in a better position to address the social needs of the people.”
Evidence on the ground demands that more work is needed to pave the way for the beginning of mining activities at Bong Mines.
The railway to Monrovia is in disrepair, and heavy-duty equipment for the various plants needed to process iron ore before shipment are not yet in place.
In addition to compensation for property owners affected by the right-of-way of the railway, US$8.9 million payment to former Bong Miners is still outstanding.