JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) –The Liberian Public Procurement and Concessions (PPC) Commission has ordered the government to halt all action in the rebidding of the Western Cluster iron-ore project pending the completion of a review, diversified mining and exploration group Delta Mining Consolidated said on Wednesday.
This comes after the Liberian government in September disqualified the South Africa-based group from participating in a relaunched bidding round for the $1,6-billion project.
The group in February was announced as the provisional winner of the concession for the project, but the Liberian government in September decided not to award the concession to Delta.
This, Delta said, was despite undergoing an independent due diligence process, which indicated that it was the most suitable bidder and after which the Liberian Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy had recommended that it be awarded the project.
Delta stated that despite formal requests by its lawyers, Webber Wentzel, the Liberian government had not provided it with detailed reasons for its disqualification.
In October, the company lodged a complaint to the PPC Commission, claiming that the government's conduct in failing to award the concession to Delta was "unlawful and lacking in due process".
The complaint has been referred to the complaints, appeals and review panel of the commission for consideration.
Delta expected the commission to hand down a decision within the next two weeks.
In early October, Delta CEO Heine van Niekerk said that the company remained "in the dark" about its exclusion from the bid.
At the time, he commented that the company's status in the bid appeared to have changed after a meeting of Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's Cabinet and Liberia Information Minister Lawrence Bropleh's subsequent inference of possible "impropriety".