Solway Mining Liberia repudiate rumors about Russian link

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The Management of Solway Investment Group, a private mining and metals group headquartered in Switzerland with global operations, through Maxime Senecaut, Official Representative of Solway Investment Group in Liberia, has distanced Solway from Russia, saying the company does not have any business with Russia.

It can be recalled that a fortnight ago, it was reported in the Liberian media that Solway was a Russian Company.

But Mr. Senecaut, responding to media inquiries regarding the media reports when he addressed the Press Union of Liberia(PUL) Edward Wilmot Blyden Forum on Thursday, September 29, 2022 in Sanniquellie City, Nimba, categorically rubbished the media reports and described the media reports as false and misleading.

The Edward Wilmot Blyden Forum was part of series of activities that marked the 58th Anniversary of the PUL.

This year’s anniversary celebration focused on the Digital Business Model, the New Way in Media Marketing Innovation at a time business in the media has declined
Speaking further, Mr. Senecaut, however, was quick to point that Solway, like any other mining company, worked in Russia, stating, ‘’In the past, we had exploration to Russia like Mittal Steel did, like any other company did, but since the war between Russia and Ukraine surfaced, we had few investments and operational projects in Russia and on 3 March 2022, Solway exited Russia because of the war against Ukraine.
This process is legally completed.”

Based in Switzerland, Solway Mining started exploration in Liberia early 2000 on Part of Mount Nimba, in Nimba County, northern Liberia, an area that under the operational area of LAMCO. This did not go down well with AML. The world’s iron ore giant then accused the government of violating the MDA.

“In your letter you assert that the mere execution of Ivanhoe Framework Agreement “constitutes a serious encroachment on AM’s right under the MDA particularly article IX (3) (d) and article IX (3) (e).” In addition, you contend that “if the government were to give effect to the Ivanhoe framework agreement, this will give rise to farther violations to AM’s right under the MDA.” The government responds to AML.

The GOL farther explained that “the Government of Liberia and Mittal Steel Holding executed a Mineral Development Agreement, on August 7, 2005, which agreement was duly ratified and approved on September 23, 2005. Under said MDA, GOL transferred to MSH the right to undertake exploration, development, production, and marketing of iron ore within the concession area formerly occupied by LAMCO J. V. Under article VI section 5 of the MDA, GOL covenanted to issue to MSH exploration license for any exploration area proposed by MSH within the concession area pursuant to sections 5.4 and 6.2 of the mineral and mining laws which requires that an exploration license must firstly be obtained for any mineral tenement, before issuance of a mining license. With the inauguration of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government in 2006 and MSH transformed to ArcelorMittal Liberia, the parties executed an amendment to the initial MDA on 28, December 2006, which was ratified and approved on May 7, 2007, by the Liberian Legislature, pursuant to law. Let it be known that article 75 (1) (b) of the then public procurement and concession commission Act of 2005 required bidding for all exploration licenses. AML was required under the amended MDA, to have applied for the entire LAMCO concession as a production area.”

Based on this document signed also by AML, the government of Liberia gave right to Solway Mining to operate in the former LAMCO concession.

The Liberian government in its response to AML claims also reminded AML that the area given to SMI for exploration was given by the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy to the local population.

“SMI entered into a community lease agreement with the people of Gbarzor for utilization of the forest land granted to them by the FDA.” MME’s letter stipulates.

Next point of violations’ accusation from AML was the multiuse of the railroad. The government of Liberia also reminded AML that this was enshrined in the MDA.

“Contrary to your assertions, the Ivanhoe Framework Agreement is consistent with the MDA. It expressly provides that the government must comply with its obligations under the MDA when giving effect to the Ivanhoe Framework Agreement. When the government first presented an expansion and modernization to AM pursuant to section 9.3 (f) of the MDA in June, 2020, AML responded in a letter June 19, 2020, that it remained committed to the multi-user model and undertook to act cooperatively with HPX (an affiliate of Ivanhoe) to enable HPX to design and build the expanded rail and port facilities required to transport its planned volumes and develop a workable multi-user operating model. The government hopes that AM and AML will reaffirm this commitment.” GOL says.

To date, ArcelorMittal is still insisting that it must be given areas already occupied by Solway Mining and be granted the exclusive right to use the railway, thus denying the Government of Liberia the right to be the owner of the railway for years, something the Liberian Legislature has rejected until now.

Since then, media reports have been concentrated on the provenance of the Swiss iron ore multinational.

Contrary to the media reports, the official representative of Solway Investment Group in Liberia, also clarified that the owners of the company are European Citizens.
‘‘Solway has neither Russian roots nor does it have business relations with Russia. Solway Investment Group is a private international mining and metals group based in Switzerland and operates mines with a focus on nickel and copper production in Northern Macedonia, Argentina, Guatemala, Liberia, Indonesia and Ukraine.
None of the managers and owners of Solway is a Russian citizen or resident.
Solway is wholly owned and managed by EU citizens. In addition, there are no relations with the Kremlin in Moscow,’’ he asserted.

Meanwhile, Solway joined the PUL to support the development of journalism in the region on the day of the 58th Anniversary of the Union in Sanniquellie City, Nimba County. Solway Investment Group joined 300 journalists in discussing the role of media and public information literacy in creating peaceful, prosperous, just, and inclusive societies.

‘‘By supporting the umbrella organization for media professionals and local, national, and international institutions in Liberia Solway is aiming to grow its own knowledge and promote further public understanding of the functions of the media and other information providers about how to critically evaluate their content and to make informed choices as users and producers of information and media content,’’ the company said in a statement.

Solway has been developing an iron-ore exploration project in Liberia for a few years and is now entering its new cycle of production.

“We were always dedicated to making it right from the very beginning and working in compliance with international regulations and global standards of good practice. Our emphasis is on constructive and open engagement with our stakeholders, including ensuring public access to information and protecting fundamental freedoms. From our experiences in other countries, we know about the importance of understanding and explaining complex issues, respecting pluralistic information systems and freedom of opinion and expression. These can highly impact the quality of life of citizens in the regions where we operate, mostly in terms of good governance and accountability. We believe that collaborating with the National Press Union will help us bring sustainability of our business practices to the next level on the way to becoming a good and trusted local corporate citizen, appreciated by all the communities in which we operate,” said the official representative of Solway Investment Group in Liberia.” Maxime Senecaut said.

According to him, Solway is currently undergoing the continuing transition process led by the board of directors and aimed at making real improvements identified in the Group’s ESG implementation plan.

In this context, the group recently introduced the new corporate Human Rights Policy committing to respecting and promoting national laws and internationally recognized human rights principles, and to operating in alignment with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and HighRisk Areas

Solway in Liberia Solway Mining Group is a subsidiary of Solway Industries Limited and has been licensed by the Government of Liberia(GoL) to undertake iron ore exploration to ascertain the existence, location, quantity, and quality of commercial value of deposits in the exploration area that covers approximately 56 Sq km. Solway has applied for a Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) over the licensed area (MEL 8000119) with an objective to develop an exemplary iron-ore mine with production up to 10Mt of iron ore for exports in global markets.
It can be recalled that in October 2019, the Government of Monrovia, Liberia + +231 77 646 2932 pressoffice@solwaygroup.ch Liberia, by and through the Ministry of Mines and Energy, awarded Solway Mining Inc. a three-year Mineral Exploration License (MEL).
The MEL 8000119 gives Solway Mining Inc. the right to explore the Mt. Detton and Mt. Bele tenements, which are situated approximately 7 kilometres Northeast of Sanniquellie, Nimba County. About 95% of Solway’s current workforce are Liberians, most of them come from the project-impacted communities.
Human Rights Commitment in Liberia Solway maintains in every country a constructive exchange with the authorities; this also applies to Liberia. Therefore, Solway also complies with environmental standards.
It has committed to far-reaching rules as part of its ESG strategy (see below) and will also implement these in Liberia. In the affected communities, Solway builds schools, nurseries, water pumps, etc. and supports other community projects.
This is part of an agreement with the involved communities in Liberia and Solway will stick to it. But the communities must submit a plan for their health and education projects before Solway can make its financial contribution.
Solway is always committed to maintaining a constructive exchange with those communities. Solway has adopted a new “Human Rights Policy”. People and human rights are part of Solway’s values and culture. This applies to employees as well as to the local population.
Solway Group recognizes the importance of producing and marketing products in a responsible and environmentally friendly manner. We are aware of the increasing ESG expectations and requirements coming from international and national regulations, laws, and standard setters, but also from our customers, the communities in which we operate, business partners, finance providers, NGO, and other stakeholders.
For this, Solway has developed the present Human Rights Policy. Solway has concluded that as a first priority the company will bring their ESG program to the next level in the upcoming months. Since the first review activities in 2020 Solway has undertaken various steps on the asset level to close the gaps already.
To remediate and close the relevant identified gaps, Solway Group has started a group-led project, supported by internationally leading ESG and Compliance experts.
This Human Rights Policy represents the basis of planification and realization of the strategic objectives of Solway Investment Group in the field of Human Rights respect, according to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and HighRisk Areas, principles of sustainable development, ESG criteria and applicable national legislation.
Russian Link Solway is not a Russian company and does not have any business relations with Russia since 3 March 2022, when Solway exited from its two investments in Russia, which represented less than 10% of the global operations of the Group.

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