Gambia: Following Freedom Newspaper Story on The Expulsion Of An Australian Mining Firm - Government Reacts!!

Freedom Newspaper (Raleigh, North Carolina)

17 January 2008
Posted to the web 18 January 2008

Following our lead story on the expulsion of the Australian sand mining company Carnegie from the Gambia, The Gambian Government has given its version of the story in a form of press release. The Government in a statement says "the President of The Gambia and Secretary of State for Mineral Resources, Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, has given a 24-hour ultimatum to Carnegie Minerals Gambia Limited to come clean on their activities in the country, failure of which they risk losing their license to operate in the country, not to speak of legal actions to follow."

In a terse statement, aired on Gambia Radio and Television Services, the Jammeh Government also claimed that "Carnegie Mineral might be exporting minerals from The Gambia, which they are not reporting accordingly. As a result of this, the release added, Carnegie Minerals Gambia Limited is being asked to tell the Gambian public the truth about what they are actually mining, the quantity of minerals from the Gambia and what the actual international price of tonnage exported are. Original laboratory results of analysis of the type of minerals accepted and exported are also requested"

The move followed mounting pressure from Carnegie corporate office, who demanded a comprehensive explanation from the authorities in Banjul to shed light on their recent move to revoke their mining license.

Carnegie Minerals Gambia Limited, is legally registered company in The Gambia. It's situated in the Gambian village of Sanyang, Kombo South. The Firm had reached a contract with The Gambian Government to export our nation's ailing minerals overseas.

The Government Press release failed to explain the main gist of the problem between the two parties. The Australian firm is considering filing breach of contract suit against the Government. It is reported that the Gambian Government violated the contract's terms and conditions. It's also pretending at this hour, that Carnegie's operations into the country was to their knowledge. But the courts would decide.

Sources close to the mining firm said the Gambian Government had a pending case to face for illegally sending the firm out of the country. The said case according to the sources we spoke to might cost Government millions of dollars if won.

This is not the first time that the Gambian Government had fallen out with foreign investors. Alementa, an international groundnut marketing firm were kicked out of the country following Government allegations that the Firm was involved in an alleged money laundering activities. Alementa denied the charges and later resorts to court action. The Firm successfully argued a multimillion dollar case against the Gambian Government at a Swiss Conflict and Dispute Settlement Court. The court awarded damages amounting to over 12 Million dollars to Alementa.

While authorities in Banjul are threatening to sue the Australian mining firm, sources close to the firm said in a bid to build up their case against The Gambia, the firm thought it crucially imperative to engage the Gambian Government at the local level before going to court.

According to Alan Hopkins, managing director of Perth-based Carnegie, is flying to the West African country to seek clarification after the office of President Yahya Jammeh unexpectedly called a halt to the company's mining operations. AIM-quoted Carnegie, whose chairman is seasoned Aussie entrepreneur Alan Burns, says the Gambian authorities have asked for details of minerals mined and assay laboratory results and suggests Hopkins will be able to provide the necessary information.

Carnegie, which insists it has complied with all the terms of its mining license, has been producing zircon and rutile at Sayang in The Gambia for shipment to China, with £2 million funding from China-focused Australian group Astron. Last year, Hopkins said the company hoped Sayang could produce 20,000 tonnes a year of these materials.

Outside The Gambia, Carnegie has interests in neighbouring Senegal, where one project, Niafarang, is reckoned to hold nearly five million tonnes of high-grade mineral sands and heavy metals. The company also has an agreement to explore for iron and nickel on Indonesia's Obi Island.

Carnegie shares, which floated on AIM in 2006 with a £2 million placing at 8p, later hit 9.25p but have now fallen to 3.88p, valuing the company at £2.1 million. A satisfactory resolution of the present Gambian issue would help restore their appeal.

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The Gambian Government reached a contract with the said Australian Company without involving the National Assembly. Many Gambians were not aware of the existence of such a mineral firm into the country. There are similar companies operating in The Gambia without public knowledge.

The Freedom Newspaper was also informed about the withdrawal of other foreign investors from the country was due to unstable political and economic climate. The Jammeh Government was reported to have created hostile business climate for foreign investors, compelling them to leave the country.

The Gambia is currently faced by economic downturn characterized by economic hardship. The average Gambian lives below one dollar. Unemployment is also on the rice. The expulsion of Carnegie from the Gambia, would no doubt scare potential investors from coming into the country.

Editors Note: Going by the above revelations, The Gambian Government is shamelessly luring Main Land China into business activities even though it had cut off diplomatic ties with China. Gambian materials being exported to China? Very interesting development. Gambians should not be surprised if Jammeh cut off ties with Taiwan. Taiwanese too should not be taken by surprise if such a thing happened.

There is a lot of diplomatic behind the scenes taking place currently. This story is just the tip of the iceberg. Taiwan risked losing Gambia as a partner in their quest for admission into the UN. Southern African countries are leaving. Gambia too is on its way of bidding farewell to Taiwan. Jammeh is a betrayer and a man of double standards. Taiwan should watch out!!!

The Gambian government has requested Australian mineral sands group Carnegie Minerals to stop all operations in the country immediately.

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