By Alex Macdonald, WSJ
Vedanta, through its Sesa Goa Ltd. iron-ore unit, has agreed to purchase a 51% stake in Western Cluster Ltd. from Elenilto Minerals & Mining LLC for $90 million in cash. WCL won the bid for an iron-ore project in Liberia that has long-life potential, with iron-ore resources exceeding one billion metric tons and saleable product of 330 million tons.
With this purchase, Vedanta, a FTSE-100 company, is joining an iron-ore investment bonanza that is taking place in West Africa. Mining companies and steel producers from around the world are flocking to the region to develop large deposits of the steelmaking raw ingredient to export it to fast-growing emerging economies such as China, where demand for the product remains high due to the fast-paced process of urbanization and industrialization.
ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel producer and a large iron-ore producer, has already started mining iron ore from its project in Liberia this year and plans to ship its first commercial iron ore in the third quarter of this year.
Brazil's Vale SA and Anglo-Australian giant Rio Tinto PLC, the world's largest and second-largest iron-ore producers respectively, are also present in neighboring Guinea, where they're investing billions of dollars in mining projects and infrastructure to transport high-quality iron ore to the coast for export.
"We are highly delighted with this opportunity to consolidate our iron ore business," said P.K. Mukherjee, Sesa Goa's managing director. "The Western Cluster project presents an excellent opportunity for developing a large integrated mining operation and establish our presence in Liberia and Africa."
Sesa Goa said the project is in close proximity to existing port infrastructure and access to land for a railway corridor. The company said the investment will establish a strong presence in the upcoming ironore hub catering to seaborne iron ore trade.
Vedanta is already present in Africa through copper and zinc investments in Zambia, Namibia and South Africa.