EDITORIAL: Arcelormittal Amended MDA: A Stitch In Time

MONROVIA-Indeed, amidst frantic negotiations which, despite witnessing a robust amendment of the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) between the government and ArcelorMittal Liberia (AML)  finally saw the light of the day on the platform of a win-win line.

 This was followed by careful scrutiny before the subsequent passage of the amended MDA; the shared celebration is now widely acclaimed and welcomed by all stakeholders-government, three beneficiary Counties (Nimba, Bong, Grand Bassa), and ArcelorMittal; is being considered as a stitch in time.

Before the passage of the Amended MDA by the Senate, some feathers were obviously ruffled on the part of some players representing some of the affected counties that believed that the deal was not good enough for the people in some of the affected counties; but the biggest picture clearly shows that the latter was the best deal ever cut in the people’s direct interests;  With independence to money accrued from extracted mineral, and the utilization of facilities by AML as well as the government’s.

The Liberian Senate on Tuesday, February 8, 2022, passed the amended Mineral Development Agreement-MDA-between the Liberian Government and Arcelor Mittal. Arcelor Mittal signed its first agreement in 2005.  But the Senate and the legislators set up a committee to look at a few areas for final work for submission to the executive for signature.

In its sitting, the House of Representatives passed the Amended MDA. The lower house last year passed the MDA, but with many changes in it.

“Yes, the Mittal Steel Amended MDA was passed by the House Tuesday, February 8, 2022. But the Senate and the Lower House have set up a committee to look into some of the changes and come up with a final one;  and final copy to be sent to the Executive for action,” Alfred Johnson, the Communication Director  at the Senate told this paper.

Over the past time, many people have complained about the previous agreement. But following series of negotiations with the Liberian Government, an agreed and amended version was reached; which many people, especially in the affected Counties-Nimba, Bong and Grand Bassa said was much better.

The key point of contention has been the multi-use of the rail road.  That was addressed in the Amended Agreement which was passed on Tuesday.

This is why residents in ArcelorMittal Liberia mining community have all reasons to smile as the company has launched $800,000 Community Development Fund project expected to benefit concession communities in Nimba, Bong and Grand Bassa Counties.

The project was launched on Wednesday at the Capitol Building in Monrovia by Liberia’s Mines and Energy Minister, Gesler Murray who said the project will directly affect the lives of ordinary Liberian.

He said, “It’s a good thing to see our people benefit from these social development packages in concession areas. The Government of Liberia welcomes this development very highly”, Minister Murray said at the launching program.

During the launching program, the Mines Minister urged authorities at of the company to go ahead with the implementation of the project as agreed upon by the counties’ leadership, and that counties’ leaderships should not force projects on the communities rather, communities should agree on whatsoever project they agree upon.

“I am happy that this Amended MDA has been passed. I would have had a bad feeling with the Legislature if it was not amended. But with this amended version, I am happy,” Augustine Garrison, a resident in Yekepa, the operation area said.

Another person who expressed happiness over the passage was Mr. Robert T. Seh, a student at the University of Liberia.

“This new Amended Agreement between the Liberian Government and Arcelor Mittal is much better than the one reached during the administration of former president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

ArcelorMittal is the world’s leading steel and mining company, with a presence in 60 countries and primary steelmaking facilities in 17 countries. In 2020, ArcelorMittal had revenues of $53.3 billion and crude steel production of 71.5 million metric tonnes, while iron ore production reached 58.0 million metric tonnes.

Its goal is to help build a better world with smarter steels. Steels made using innovative processes which use less energy, emit significantly less carbon and reduce costs.

Steels that are cleaner, stronger and reusable. Steels for electric vehicles and renewable energy infrastructure that will support societies as they transform through this century.

We want to thank the Senate for job well done in the passage of this agreement with  changes in it. At the end of the day, both Liberia and Arcelor Mittal have reached what  all of them will benefit directly and directly.

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