Solway Investment Group, a private international mining and metals group based in Switzerland, has submitted a Notice of Arbitration to the Government of Liberia for settlement of claims of damages in relation of revocation of mining contracts.
The parent company hopes to resolve a dispute between its Liberian subsidiary Solway Mining Incorporated (SMI) and Liberian authorities over iron ore assets in the West African nation.
In 2019, the Liberian Ministry of Mines and Energy granted SIG’s Liberian subsidiary a three-year Mineral Exploration License.
Pursuant to this Exploration License, SIG and SMI carried out significant exploration works, culminating in the identification and delineation of in excess of 1.4 billion tons of economically viable resources of iron ore in a strategically valuable location.
SIG and SMI subsequently entered into negotiations with the Government of Liberia for the conclusion of a Mineral Development Agreement, which would allow SIG to complete the final practical steps required to commence production.
While the Government of Liberia was negotiating the Mineral Development Agreement with SIG, it appears at the same time to have promised the very same license area to ArcelorMittal, one of the largest foreign investors in Liberia.
In mid-2023, the Ministry of Mines and Energy and ArcelorMittal entered into an agreement predicated on the termination of SIG’s valuable mining rights, and the transfer of these rights to ArcelorMittal without the payment of fair and adequate compensation to SIG.
This agreement took place without the knowledge and consent of SIG, causing SIG and its shareholders significant economic harm.
The Government of Liberia’s actions violate the Liberian Investment Act 2010 and the Treaty of Friendship and of Commerce between the Swiss Confederation and the Republic of Liberia.
The Investment Act contains Liberia’s agreement to investment arbitration under the Arbitration Rules of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law.
In October 2023, SIG wrote to the Government of Liberia, inviting it to enter into amicable discussions in response to its unilateral actions.
SIG was disappointed to receive no response from the Government of Liberia. SIG therefore had no alternative but to submit a Notice of Arbitration to the Government of Liberia on November 9, 2023.
In this Notice of Arbitration, SIG requested the Government of Liberia’s consent to see the arbitration proceedings in London, United Kingdom, administered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
SIG continues all efforts to engage in constructive discussions with the Government of Liberia to resolve this issue while simultaneously protecting its interests under public international law by reference to arbitration.