A Rejoinder to the New Republic newspaper’s Monday, July 13, 2021 editorial titled ArcelorMittal: Investor or Exploiter?
Dear Mr. Editor,
Our attention is drawn to your Monday, July 13, 2021 editorial captioned ‘ArcelorMittal Liberia: Investor or Exploiter’ that misrepresents the activities of AML.
ArcelorMittal unequivocally refutes the negative labeling and insinuations you have made which not only disparage and impugn our reputation, but raise serious questions about the intent of the editorial.
You have made several egregious assertions of corruption and bad labor practices by ArcelorMittal in its business dealings, without any substantive proof. This is not just disingenuous, but contradictory to your professed commitment to the ethics of good journalism.
In your editorial, you, perhaps selectively failed to recognize that the donation of vehicles by ArcelorMittal Liberia to the Government was a benevolent response to a formal request for support from the government to help address some of the serious logistical challenges impeding the work of public officials at the time. This was in 2008, many years after the ratification of the company’s Mineral Development Agreement (MDA), and was in no way intended to influence any public decision in its favor.
Mr. Editor, when you write that “Today, the concession agreement is chronically affecting Liberia and Liberians,” without providing any evidence, you are destroying the mutually beneficial business relationship existing between the people of Liberia and ArcelorMittal. This appears to be a deliberate attempt to damage our reputation, at the same time casting a negative reflection on the broader media.
ArcelorMittal has a reputation for honesty and integrity in its management practices and its business transactions. Regardless of the economic or financial environment in which we operate, ArcelorMittal upholds the highest standards of integrity, and this has been the case in Liberia.
Following the end of the Liberian civil war, ArcelorMittal was the first multi-national business to demostrate strong belief in the future of Liberia with our multi-million dollar investment and our commitment led the way in demonstrating the viability of prosperous business in Liberia. We are pleased to note that since then, other companies have followed our lead, helping to provide more job opportunities and economic stability throughout the country.
To date, ArcelorMittal Liberia remains one of Liberia’s long-standing business partners and has invested over $1.7 billion in the country over these years, including a substantial investment in full restoration and improvement of the rail and port infrastructure and many other operations and technical facilities including housing units. We are also in the process of investing a further $800 million in Liberia to ensure a sustainable mining project for the next few decades.
What you failed to acknowledge or report when it comes to housing is that ArcelorMittal Liberia (AML) has renovated and repaired hundreds of these housing units because we believe that the provision of housing for our employees and associates remains one of our priorities. In the event the company is unable to provide housing, employees are paid a housing allowance and or provided temporary shelters.
At ArcelorMittal Liberia, people are our greatest asset, that is why our employees are competitively compensated and are amongst the best paid in the country, contrary to your claim that they are being degraded.
We believe in investing in people and continue to attract, train, and develop some of the best professionals and aspiring young Liberians who are positively contributing to the nation’s development in different fields.
We continue to demonstrate care for our staff and communities, through our many corporate social responsibility programs and other free of charge social services in healthcare, education, training and livelihood development.
Thousands of students receive quality education at our schools, while AML hospitals serve over thirty thousand patients annually. We are inspired by the testimonials of the many young Liberians being trained at our state-of-the-art Training Academy in Yekepa and the several others who have been sponsored and graduated with advanced degrees from foreign universities.
ArcelorMittal Liberia is a company that believes in giving back and we take our commitments and corporate social responsibility seriously.
We cannot attempt to restrict what and how you choose to report, but as a business with huge public interest, we feel duty-bound to provide the facts and to demystify some of these libelous assertions.
As we conclude this rejoinder to your editorial, ArcelorMittal Liberia seizes this moment to express how much it values the work of the media and stresses that it is always open and willing to share information about its operations and to respond to whatever inquiries it receives.
The Editorial is based on facts. As a company about to enter into a concession agreement will carry out the distribution of new Pickups? Is AML a benevolent entity?
A full report on AML operations in Liberia soon.