Sable Mining Sets the record Straight over mining interests in Liberia, Sierra Leone, makes breakup from consultant Sam Jackson official; South African investment Company says it has no interest in Western Cluster, eyes long-term investment in Liberia.
he South African mining group Sable Mining has characterized recent negative media reports against the company as unfair while stating that it has no interest in derailing negotiations between the Liberian government and the Israeli company, Elenilto for the Western Clusters.
Addressing a major news conference in Monrovia Thursday, Heine Van Niekerk, Director of Sable Mining Africa Ltd and the President & Chief Executive Officer of Delta Mining Consolidated Pty., which is a subsidiary of Sable Mining Africa Ltd, accompanied by Klaus Piprek, the resident manager for Sable's interests in Liberia and Counsellor Varney Sherman, whose law firm, Sherman & Sherman has represented the company’s interests in Liberia since December 2008, said it was necessary for the company to clear the air on a number of issues which has been in the media recently regarding the company’s activities.
Van Niekerk explained that Delta Mining Consolidated Pty, now a subsidiary of Sable, by agreement with the Liberian Government, has already disengaged from any involvement with the Western Clusters. “We have honored that agreement and we will continue to honor that agreement,” the Sable Mining CEO asserted.
Van Niekerk said his company does not presume that were Elenilto's negotiations to fail that the Liberian Government would hand the Western Clusters over to Sable. Thus, there is no incentive whatsoever for Sable to finance or otherwise sponsor any activity intended to derail Elenilto's negotiations with the Liberian Government. “We trust that these assurances will debunk the erroneous assumption that Sable intends to derail Elenilto's negotiations with the Liberian Government. Sable does not stand to benefit from any such derailment.”
The explanation comes in the wake of a recent war-of-words between Mr. Sam Jackson, a consultant for Sable and agents of Elelnilto.
Parting ways with Sam Jackson
Distancing itself from Jackson Thursday, Van Niekerk said Sable Mining and Mr. Jackson have parted ways.
Said Van Niekerk: “Mr. Sam Jackson has performed well under his contract with Sable, but it has become clear to us that his other activities, especially his attacks on the process that led to naming Elenilto as the preferred bidder for the Western Clusters, is the sources of the unwarranted, false and malicious attacks on Sable in the media. To stop the unfounded and baseless media attacks on Sable, its directors and our interests in West Africa, we have terminated the consultancy agreement Mr. Jackson had with us. We regret taking this action, but we have determined that those who sponsor the malicious and false accusations against Sable, its interests and its directors, would not cease to do so once Mr. Jackson continues as a Sable consultant. Our best wishes go with Mr. Jackson and, in this public manner; we thank him for his invaluable services.”
Cllr. Varney Sherman, the man’s whose law firm currently provides legal advice for the Mining Company, said he thinks if Jackson’s call was a personal venture as a Liberian citizen then, the media must be blamed for indicating in their articles that he may have been doing so on behalf of Sable.
Cllr. Sherman like Sable CEO believes that attacks on the company can only be aborted should the company ask Jackson to leave. The company’s lawyer also took jabs at several publications which published verbatim similar attacks on Sable, suggesting that the reports were paid and planted in certain newspaper.
The Bagla Hills Debacle
Regarding recent media reports out of Sierra Leone that the company acknowledged that there is a dispute regarding interests acquired over the Bagla Hills resource but has dispatched a legal team to Sierra Leone, which is currently engaged with the Sierra Leonean Government to conduct a due diligence on the issue.
Van Niekerk explained that Sable never knowingly or intentionally conducted itself illegally or inappropriately in Sierra Leone or anywhere else. “There is no reason for the Liberian press to demonize our company due to any error which may or may not have been committed in the process of acquiring interest in the Bagla Hills resources, as it is not uncommon for a foreign investor to be misled by local advisors and consultants during the process of acquiring an interest in natural resources.”
The Sable Mining CEO further noted that Sable has always conducted its business with the advice of local legal counsel and with the participation of local technical and development experts. Said Van Niekerk: “We relied substantially on their advice and support, but we acknowledge that as humans, they are not infallible. So, if the process in acquiring interest in Bagla Hills resources is flawed, we are committed to taking whatever remedial action is necessary to correct it. If however, as suggested by some, Bagla Hills is not available for exploration and exploitation of the resources, we will abide by the decision of the Sierra Leonean Government.”
No interest in Western Cluster
For Sable, the departure from Jackson while heartbreaking was a necessity. Van Niekerk said Sable will miss Jackson for his professional and technical skills and the invaluable contributions he has made to the company over the period he has worked as consultant of Sable.
Mr. Niekerk, said the company was taking the action because the calls from Mr. Jackson that Elenilto is not qualified to do mining in Liberia seemed to have suggested that his company was behind the campaign, adding “when in fact we have no interest whatsoever in the Western Cluster.”
“Mr. Sam Jackson has performed well under his contract with Sable, but it has become clear to us that his other activities, especially his attacks on the process that led to naming Elenilto as the preferred bidder for the Western Clusters, is the sources of the unwarranted, false and malicious attacks on Sable in the media.” Sable CEO told the media.
Sam Jackson, a Liberian Economist, has persistently maintained that Elenilto Mining Limited, the company that applied for the Western Cluster in 2008 and won it, does not have both the technical and financial capacity to carry to mining in Liberia, an argument that Elenilto has since rubbished.
To stop the unfounded and baseless media attacks on Sable, Niekerk said, “Its directors and our interests in West Africa, we have terminated the consultancy agreement Mr. Jackson had with us. We regret taking this action, but we have determined that those who sponsor the malicious and false accusations against Sable, its interests and its directors, would not cease to do so once Mr. Jackson continues as a Sable consultant. Our best wishes go with Mr. Jackson and, in this public manner; we thank him for his invaluable services.”
“We reiterate that Sable has no interest in derailing Elenilto's negotiations with the Liberian Government for the Western Clusters. Delta Mining Consolidated Pty, now a subsidiary of Sable, by agreement with the Liberian Government, disengaged from any involvement with the Western Clusters. We have honored that agreement and we will continue to honor that agreement.” Mr. Niekerk said at the Thursday Press Conference.
The Sable Mining CEO told Journalists that the newspaper publications against Sable and its affiliated companies and subsidiaries appear to have been orchestrated. According to him, during the course of several weeks, various newspapers found it necessary to publish what he calls the ‘same false and malicious’ story about his company.
Niekerk said, his company had not responded initially to the publication because, as a matter of policy, Sable, like every reputable company, does not conduct its business in the press.
Continued Niekerk “At the initial stage, we thought to ignore those false and malicious publications, but when those publications intensified, we found it necessary to respond by a written Press Statement, which was published by many newspapers on the 11th day of April 2011. I believe that each of you has read our Press Statement and so it will not be necessary to repeat its contents now.”
Sable’s foremost objective and interest according to Niekerk, is to create a viable economy with the active participation of the local population of the country.
He further said, affirming the long-term interest of collaborating with the Liberian Government and people in investing in the minerals of this country, is designed to have individual Liberian citizens and entities participate with Sable on a virtual "free-carry" basis. This he indicated is intended to explore for minerals and take the exploration to the level of determination of the commercial viability of a resource; at which stage, the Liberian partners will then be able to use their equity to source the capital required for exploitation of the resource.
Sherman agreed: “This Company is here to do real business; we talking about serious money here, Sable don’t have any interest getting involved with such unnecessary confrontations with another company, when there isn’t anything particular it stands to gain in the process.”
Van Niekerk assured Liberians that Sable’s credential is intact and very credible. “We are a public company, which means Sable’s shares are on the stock exchange; Sable’s shares can be bought and sold by members of the public. Accordingly, Sable is governed by laws and regulations which prohibit our company and its directors engaging in any of the conduct we are accused of; and certainly, we would not violate the laws of England, where our company is listed only to find us prosecuted under English law. So, we trust that those who have engaged in these libelous attacks will desist now.”