MONROVIA-The Government of Liberia through a Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) granted ArcelorMittal Liberia a 25-year contract to exploit iron ore from the Nimba Mountains.
This agreement details how and where the company would operate as well as what should be paid to the Government and people of Liberia for the quantity of ore taken from Liberia.
ArcelorMittal, shortly known as AML pays millions of dollars to the Liberia Government in in taxes and royalties including US$3.1million for social development to Grand Bassa, Bong and Nimba Counties every year.
In August 2020, AML and the Government of Liberia launched another US$840,000 (eight hundred forty thousand) community development fund for projects in the proximity of ArcelorMittal’s operational areas of the three affected counties.
Over the last sixteen years of stay in Liberia, the concession has paid all its obligations to the government and invested heavily in community development activities.
AML has continued to build strong social relations with the affected communities to promote strong social acceptability for its mining project.
As we speak, the company still has nine years left on its current concession agreement with government, but opted to request the Government and people of Liberia to expand its years of stay in Liberia by another 25 years.
Many Liberians have been questioning why ArcelorMittal is asking for additional 25 years when its time in Liberia has not elapsed.
But here is it: in 2013 the Government of Liberia and ArcelorMittal agreed that the company moves ahead with its phase II expansion project which incorporates the construction of a major concentrator in Yekepa.
By the end of 2023, the concentrator would have been completed and with that, AML would be left with just six years on its Mineral Development Agreement with the Government of Liberia.
Being a business with billions of investment in Liberia, the company thinks it is key to expand its operations by yet another 25 years.
So the request for expansion by another 25 years as contained in the Third (3rd) rdMineral Development Agreement is key to protect AML’s investment here in Liberia.
Any mining company with the portfolio and this already existing investment capacity like ArcelorMittal would of course do this.
Liberians must welcome the Third rdMineral Development Agreement and intentionally encourage their representatives in government to act by rectifying same.
This is because the 3rd amendment of ArcelorMittal Liberia presents benefits that stand out to empower Liberians of all works of life be it with jobs, small business development as well as once more placing the country on the map of major ore exporters.
In the new agreement for example, the government and AML agree that when passed, ArcelorMittal Liberia who has already invested US$1.7 billion in the country over the past 15 years will do all it can to add 2000 more direct new jobs to its workforce.
These 2000 will be created during the construction phase, with Liberians envisaged to fill the majority of the roles created. So there is opportunity for additional jobs even when construction is done.
As we are all aware, ArcelorMittal operates a Vocational Training Centre that provides two-year residential certificate training in mechanical and electrical trades.
An extension of AML’s operations in Liberia will see younger Liberians acquire more technical skills that would prepare them for jobs in the mining industry.
Because, due to the future technical capacities that will be required when the company fully expands, AML has been farsighted to launch a training and development program for high potential Liberian employees who will gain on the job experience and knowledge in ArcelorMittal Mining operations globally.
Also, the company commits in its Third (3rd)rdMAD that employees will receive advanced training in the fields of mining production and operation optimization, plant maintenance, planning and execution, plant electrical operation systems, and electrical maintenance.
Other training areas to be taken advantaged of would include plant fitting and heavy-duty mobile equipment maintenance, as well as mine production and operations.
This kind of investment in progressive skills training, Liberians must be aware demonstrate ArcelorMittal Liberia’s commitment to providing employment and professional development opportunities to Liberians not just now, but over a long period of time.
When ArcelorMittal is afforded the opportunity to expand, this will not just guarantee investment security, but also it is envisaged that the expansion will further boost the growth of small and medium sized businesses in Liberia which offer a range of services to ArcelorMittal Liberia.
This is why the President of the Republic of Liberia George M. Weah praised the agreement as important and added that, this agreement demonstrates to the world that Liberia welcomes foreign direct investment and is a key emerging destination for capital. It further supports the Governments Pro-Poor agenda, which is underpinned by the importance of creating jobs to lift Liberian citizens out of poverty
The President said this further investment by ArcelorMittal in Liberia bears testament to the company’s confidence in the future of this country. We are confident that our constructive working relationship will go from strength to strength.