HPX’s 30 Million Dollars Captures in the National Budget – A Gift or Grant to the People of Liberia?
By Julius T. Jaesen II
A few months ago, we informed the public that whilst the House of Representatives was returning to the Office of the President for renegotiation of the ArcelorMittal agreement, the Government of Liberia was under the cover of darkness signing a Framework Agreement with High Power Exploration (HPX), a company operating in Guinea but with a vested interest in the usage of Liberia’s port and railway to export their iron ore. When such scandalous negotiation which was shrouded in secrecy became a subject of public knowledge and discussion after we exposed the government in many quarters – thus bringing the government’s credibility to questioning by Liberians home and abroad, the government intimated that such was a non-binding memorandum of understanding, whilst some members of the Legislature stated that they have no knowledge of that august body ratifying any agreement between the Government of Liberia and HPX.
Nevertheless, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bohfal Chambers, allegedly received a US$500,000 cheque from the Guinean concessionaire, HPX, to break the rules of the Legislature and have the House of Representatives proceed unilaterally to return ArcelorMittal’s agreement to the President, even though decisions were to be made by consensus – by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, especially since the agreement was already in the conference room as per legislative procedures. But to add insult to injury, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, working in favor of the Guinean concessionaire, paid US$45,000 of the half a million he received to nine of his fellow lawmakers to tour the concession area of AML and prepare a report that would justify his later actions to return an agreement that is in the best interest of our country and its struggling population.
But speaking in a plenary session on July 12, 2022, in a heated debate on the passage of the national budget, a vocal member of the Senate, Abraham Darius Dillon of Montserrado County, dubbed the “Light,” informed the public about an appearance of 30 million dollars which were inserted in the national budget by the Executive branch to be paid by High Power Exploration (HPX), a concessionaire operating under the laws of Guinea with whom the government of Liberia has no legal existence or binding agreement with.
This is damming revelation coming from a Senator confirms our editorial of May 22, 2022, under the caption, “What Happened Behind Closed Doors This Week? The Case of Liberia Prioritising Guinea Iron Ore Over Liberian Iron Ore – Part One.” Below is the link!
Liberians at home and in the diaspora are wondering in doubt and are divided over the intent of a US$30 million given to the government through the national budget by High Power Exploration when there is absolutely no existing agreement that was negotiated between the concessionaire and the Executive and ratified by the Legislature.
Since there is no official obligation our country has to HPX, unless there’s one done under the cover of darkness which would prove dangerous for the future of our country and the reputation of the government of Liberia if brought to light, the government must tell us as to whether the 30 million inserted in the budget is a charity or gift to the people of Liberia by a Guinean concessionaire, HPX, or an upfront payment for usage of our rail and port. We demand an honest answer from our government!
If this is not a gift or charity to the people of Liberia from a Guinean concessionaire, how can our government illegally be taking money from a company with whom it has no legal established agreement? Even if nicodemusly the Executive branch of government in secrecy entered into an agreement with HPX for which the sum of US$30 million appeared in the budget as an upfront payment against the user fees for our rail and port, such agreement is still null and void and at the bare minimum financial and Legislative standards, illegal until such agreement is passed or ratified by the Legislature and printed into handbill.
This act by the government of Liberia is dangerous for our country’s image we collectively struggled to build since coming from our nearly 14 years of horrendous civil wars.
It goes without dispute that over the last five years, the administration of George Weah has been dogged and blanketed in reputational crisis fighting to recover from the smells and filths of fiscal robbery and thievery at the height of this government.
From the Executive to the Legislature, and down to the Judiciary, Liberians home and scattered across the globe are fast losing hope in this government to enable a prosperous country. From illegally using donors’ funds at the Central bank to entering into scandalous agreements with two 419 companies (Elton & Eboma), to 16 billion going missing and many others, including the 25 million dollars intended to mop up excess liquidity of Liberian dollars on the market and the 30 million “budgeted corruption” by lawmakers under the guise of “legislative engagements and accessibility,” Liberians and our international partners have all lost fate in our government and are broadly “distrustful of any credibility” left of this government to ensure disciplined allocations of resources, high standards of accountability for the use of resources and trusts, proper standards of reporting for responsibilities assigned, ethically managing individuals and interests to achieve desired outcomes and results, and employing due diligence and high integrity in the performance and delivery of services.
We call on all opposition leaders who view themselves as credible alternatives to Weah and those seeking to contest for seats in the Senate and House of Representatives in the upcoming presidential and legislative elections slated for October of 2023 to stand up to these criminal maneuverings by certain elements in the hierarchy of government whose only desire is to enrich themselves, build exotic mansions and ride luxurious vehicles whilst Liberian parents remain wretchedly poor and their children kicked out of schools because they cannot afford the hike tuition fees.
If you cannot stand for our people in times like these, you don’t deserve their votes in 2023 cause you are nothing but accomplices of corrupt bureaucrats exploiting the country and people.
Untold Story About HPX
High Power Exploration (HPX) is a privately-owned, U.S.-domiciled mineral exploration and development company with an operating office in Vancouver, Canada. HPX is focused on the development of the ultra-high-grade Nimba iron ore project at the Samandou mine in Guinea.
Mineral exploration and development firm High Power Exploration (HPX), based in the United States, also has a Canadian branch in Vancouver. It is believed that the Nimba deposit in Forestière, south-eastern Guinea, contains roughly a billion tonnes of high-grade iron ore with extremely low impurities, according to a United States Geological Survey evaluation conducted in 2015. In order to reduce energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and the generation of slag, iron ore of this grade is needed which HPX is attempting to exploit with no good intent for the people of Guinea and Liberia.
Robert Friedland, a billionaire and the CEO and owner of HPX, is well-known for his involvement in a number of dubious business dealings in several African nations and the world at large.
Robert Friedland is not really interested in mining in Guinea. The Samandou mine is very close to Nimba, Yekapa. Guinea as a country cannot mine the ore from the Samandou mine. The mine is rich in ore but Guinea cannot mine the ore due to its inability to construct railway from the Samandou mine to Conakry. The topography of the south-eastern region where the ore deposit is to Conakry cannot easily allow the passing of rail from Samandou to Conakry.
To build railway infrastructure passing through Samandou mine to Conakry will cost HPX or the government of Guinea approximately US$50 billion dollars. To construct a railway means the government or HPX will have to pass the railway over valleys and mountains which is impossible and is too costly for both the government of Guinea and HPX.
So, clearly, the conman and notorious fraudster, Robert Friedland, knows the best way to exploit and mine that rich iron ore deposit is to pass the ore through Liberia because our country already has the Yekepa to Buchanan railway. So, it means the rail will be connected from Yekepa to Samandou, and then HPX can now engage from that route to pass the ore Nimba, Bong and to Buchanan to export.
ArcelorMittal-Liberia has invested about US$500 million in developing the rail from Buchanan to go to Yekapa. The only way for HPX to rail their ore is to have access to the rail which is bring out all the fights against AML’s agreement.
Interestingly, ArcelorMittal who has spent half a billion in developing the rail has welcomed HPX and asked them if they have lots of money as they claim, why done they come to give government some money to do the rail expansion since rails are not owned by companies but rather owned by governments.
But truth be told, Robert Friedland is not interested actually in investing in our country’s rail other than trying to get rights over our rail to mine his ore form Samandou and later sell his rights to a third party company – make lots of money and later leave our country and Guinea poor as it was done with Western Cluster during the tenure of madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
Friedland of HPX knows fully well that to invest in rails either in Guinea or Liberia will cost him too much money and thinking he may be running at loses if he spends all the money to the Legislature to ratify the agreement and invest in rail expansion. So his focus is to get rights to the usage of the rail and later sell it to another party.
These are the ways in which Robert Friedland gets his money through causing controversies in lots of countries. Hence, it is clear that Friendland of HPX is the one causing all these problems and spending money on a few handful of government officials to forestall the passage of AML’s agreement.
True Story About Robert Friedland – Owner of HPX
Robert Friedland, a conman and scammer, was charged in a report in 2001 of gang raping the environment and using forced labor in Burma. With the help of the military regime in Burma, Friedlan’s Ivanhoe, a subsidiary of HPX, manages the Monywa copper mine, Burma’s biggest mining project, in a 50/50 joint venture.
Friedland’s business interests include the mine as well as assets in the United States, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand, China, Australia, Fiji, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Angola, Sierra Leone, and Namibia.
The report which indicted Robert Friedland form wrong deeds in Burma was authored by mining expert Roger Moody and distributed by MiningWatch Canada and Canadian Friends of Burma under the title Grave Diggers: A Report on Myanmar’s Mining Industry (CFOB).
According to a MiningWatch news release, “serious environmental damage” has been done to the Monywa mining region, and roads leading to the mine were constructed using forced labour. Nearby drinking water in Burma where Friendland was mining was so filthy that locals begun to boil the water to purify it and re-selling the copper back to the government.
Those who used the polluted water also reported experiencing skin discomfort in Burma. There was no environmental legislation in Burma. As a result of copper mining, the mining sector operated by Friedland created the most hazardous waste. Villagers were “running all over…even during blasting” at the mining site, according to the report published in 2001 where eye witnesses testified. The extension of the mine beneath Ivanhoe forced residents from their homes, according to Moody.
Hundreds of villages in the mine’s path were forcefully evicted and their property seized without compensation, according to locals. The alliance between Friedland and the Burmese government was one of great potential impact. One of the world’s biggest heroin exporters and a notorious slave labour camp, Burma has been transformed by Canadian mining investors tied to environmental catastrophes and mercenaries. In 1988, they slaughtered 10,000 students in an uprising.
Friedland was formerly a member of the junta’s drug-trafficking syndicate. At the time of his arrest in Portland, Maine, in 1969, Bob “Toxic” Bob was known as “Toxic Bob” for trying to sell the police 8,000 “hits” of LSD. Friedland and his two accomplices were found to be in possession of an additional 16,000 hits, making this the state’s largest-ever narcotics raid.
Throughout his time in Burma, Friedland maintained strong ties to the regime. Vancouver businessman Reggie Tun Maung (a Burmese citizen and senior vice-president of Ivanhoe Myanmar Holdings) represents him in the country. Reggie’s son is married to Vice-Admiral Maung Maung Khin’s daughter.
According to Moody’s, Burma’s drug money has been shifted via mining. Agreements with drug lords and their private troops, such as the Wa and Kokang gangs, were inked in 1989.
In the Sagaing division, a 140,000-hectare block is jointly owned by First Dynasty Mines and the Myanmar Ministry of Mines. In Burma, General Friendland claims that the generals are not corrupt, but rather are “pursue[ing] forward-looking forestry policies.” He believes that the best approach to win their support is to acknowledge that “they are patriotic.”
Assassination and deception have been the specialties of the renowned South African mercenary outfit Executive Outcomes (EO), which is made up of apartheid-era military personnel, in Friedland’s firm DiamondWorks, which controls two diamond mines in the West African country of Sierra Leone. Rebels had seized control of DiamondWorks’ premises in Sierra Leone in 1996, and EO retook them. In addition to being on the board of DiamondWorks, EO chief Tony Buckingham, a former SAS officer, owns stock in the firm and serves as a stakeholder. To reclaim the diamond fields, EO used airburst bombs, which vaporize anything in their path.