MONROVIA, Dec. 6 (LINA) – The recent scaling down of employees of the Putu Iron Ore Mining Company in Grand Gedeh County should not be misconstrued as folding up, an official has said.
“We are simply moving from one phase of the project to another that will not require the size of staff we had and so we have to scale down,” Mrs. Sadia Massaquoi-Bangoura, Putu head of Government Relations and Corporate Affairs, explained.
She said the number of workers used during the Field Study phase of the project were no longer required during the compilation of data from the field work and hence the scaling down exercise.
The company scaled its 300 local staff to 150, while the expatriates were reduced from 10 to seven, Mrs. Bangoura told the Liberia News Agency Thursday on the sidelines of the Corporate Responsibility Forum Annual Meeting in Monrovia.
She said the data compilation will lead to a report to the government for review by sectorial agencies and if approved, the issuance of mining license.
After licensing the company will then enter the construction phase to build the infrastructure required to start mining iron ore. This phase will last about three years, she noted.
Mrs. Bangoura said the 100 percent Russian firm, which started exploration in 2010, is keen to ship its first ore in 2017.
She said the US$4 billion investment spanning 25 years will create employment for between 3,000 to 3,500 Liberians at the peak of its operation.
“We understand the expectations of the people, but mining start-up can be a time consuming engagement,” Mrs. Bangoura said.