The China Union Mining Company has turned over the Bong Mines Hospital to the Liberian Government to continue providing medical services for the people of Bong Mines and its surroundings.
According to a press release issued over the weekend, China Union Management said the action is in keeping with a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the company and authorities of the Ministry of Health.
The release observed that the management has agreed to pay off all 82 health workers at the hospital, including their benefits, as required by the labor laws of Liberia and in keeping with the MOU.
China Union Liberia in 2010 took over mining activities in Bong Mines from the former Bong Mining Concession previously operated by the Germans who quit mining activities as a result of the civil conflict which broke out in December 1990.
China Union entered into a 25-year Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) in the tune of US$2.6 billion in 2010, but has been struggling to maintain the concession following the sharp decline in the price of iron ore on the world market.
The release pointed out that between 2010 and 2013, the price of iron ore per ton plummeted from US$125 to as low as US$39, the lowest price ever to hit the iron market in the world.
It said this has made it difficult for the company to carry out production and shipment of ore out of Liberia for over eight months.
The Management said due to the drop in production occasioned by the drop in the price of iron ore, it cannot cope with the high cost associated with running the hospital though aware of the danger this will pose to the health of the people but, was compelled to take such grave measure to save it from sustaining further expenses that it will not be able to endure.
The Management of the Company said it hopes to take over the affairs of the hospital when it resumes full mining activities in the future when the price of iron is good enough to continue operations on the Bong Range, the release added.
The Bong Mines Hospital was constructed by the former Bong Mining Company in the early 1960s to cater to its workers, their dependents and residents in communities surrounding the mining concession.