Vedanta enters scramble for Africa with deal for Western Cluster stake

VEDANTA Resources has bought a majority stake in iron ore exploration company Western Cluster – joining other miners in the race to invest in West Africa.

The region has become a fast-emerging iron ore hub and Vedanta, through its Sesa Goa iron ore unit, confirmed yesterday that it is to buy a 51 per cent stake in Western Cluster from Elenilto Minerals & Mining for $90m (£55m) in cash.

Vedanta, which is primarily focused on India, is joining mining companies and steel producers from around the world who are exploiting large deposits of the steelmaking raw ingredient.

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 and Anglo-Australian giant Rio Tinto, the world’s largest and second-largest iron-ore producers respectively, also have interests in the region.

The companies have been using the material to feed demand in China. PK Mukherjee, Sesa Goa’s managing director, said: “The Western Cluster project presents an excellent opportunity for developing a large integrated mining operation and establish our presence in Liberia and Africa.”

Vedanta already has interests in Africa through copper and zinc investments in Zambia, Namibia and South Africa. It recently bought a large stake in Cairn’s Indian op