MONROVIA-ArcelorMittal’s board of directors in March 2013, approved plans for phase two of its mining operations in Liberia to ramp up iron ore mine capacity to about 30mtpa.
With this plan, it was agreed with the government of Liberia that the company would correspondingly expand in all its operational spheres, which means an increase in job opportunities for Liberians, spillovers to local businesses, the surge in scope and level of technical training, increases in royalties, taxes, and payments for community development initiatives, etc.
Core in the second phase of expansion is the construction of a concentrator to beneficiate or add value on Liberia’s iron ore. For the ArcelorMittal concentrators plant, which is being constructed in Yekepa, Nimba County, Liberians will for the first time witness in real time the crushing of ore and then absorbing the ore in different ways, for example by milling, flotation, or magnetic separation.
At some mining sites, the ore is then processed further and pelletized for use in direct reduced iron (DRI) steelmaking which would reasonably produce additional technical and low skills jobs for Liberians.
The Yekepa concentrator when completed stands to produce iron ore pellets enabling ArcelorMittal to increase its production capacity with favorable market price depending on the global iron ore price.
ArcelorMittal and the Government have long agreed that the phase two expansion will also incorporate major works-upgrades and capacity expansion for port facilities in Buchanan as well as the Buchanan and Yekepa rail.
ArcelorMittal has committed that Phase two will result in further investment in the port of Buchanan, “mainly through a new fixed ship loader that will have a loading capacity of 6-8,000 tonnes of iron ore per hour”
These three important activities in the AML Phase II Expansion programs are key steps forward for the growth of Liberia’s mining sector as well as for a favorable economic future for Liberia.
ArcelorMittal’s expansion and upgrades at the Port of Buchanan will have a long-lasting economic impact on both AML’s host counties and Liberia at large, constituting an important economic upturn.
As a results of these massive logistic and operational activities, offshoot widespread economic possibilities are anticipated in the port and rail communities and beyond. Considering that the higher the number of goods shipped at the port the more infrastructure, provisions, and associated services would be required, which would deliver real-time returns for a country where jobs and economic activities are grossly in short supply.
The expansion of the port is not just of benefit to AML as perceived. It will also increase the market opportunity for both national and international business firms. These operations would trigger an expanded port’s cargo base and increasing competition that results in lower prices for port traffic users which are not just specific to ArcelorMittal but others who may desire the use the infrastructure.
Not only will these activities under AML phase two project guarantee good-paying jobs in Liberia, but also, they would demonstrate the dedication of ArcelorMittal and its commitment to building a world-class mining operation in Liberia.
The Phase Two expansion was largely delayed due to the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease, COVID-19, and the continuous disruptions in the global iron ore price over the last ten years, which significantly destroyed profit margins for the global steel giant.
But long before the commencement of AML mammoth Phase Two expansion, Liberians had been enjoying the opportunity of ArcelorMittal’s presence in Liberia and the benefit of its investment. This holds true for the many community projects AML has undertaken in Nimba, Bassa, and Grand Bassa counties.
Now that ArcelorMittal’s second phase expansion has commenced, capital-intensive projects like the US$40 million provided by AML for the pavement of the 70 km road connecting Ganta and Yekepa, would be seen implemented in many other areas in AML’s host counties.
The road construction work has reached Sanniquellie City as of now with many citizens along that route have been expressing their appreciation to the company.
Once AML’s extended MDA is ratified, it is expected that additional job and business opportunities would be announced by the company to put its second phase operation in full swing, which would further strengthen Liberia’s partnership with the company and bring needed to the Liberian people.