EDITORIAL: Thoroughly Overhaul AcelorMittal’s Concession Agreement

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A renewed Liberian retired corporate worker upon hearing the ongoing debate and revision of concession agreements with keen interest in the AcelorMittal Liberia’s investment package, burst into grave laugher and, while sending out a clarion call for the exercise not to be another ‘brown envelope”-driven attraction, wherein the aftermath will result into mere charade; those conducting the cardinal task must close their eyes to pity, and carry out their duty, this time, totally wielded to maximum benefits for the people, country and future, enhancing actual and practical growth and development.

AceloMittal, as the renowned retired corporate worker observes, is as slippery as catching cat fish under the water with bare hand which has proven to always be a rough tough and difficult task to obtain pure success; meaning that the world steel giant deeply rooted in the philosophy of massively accruing profits in its venture, mostly at the expense of weak governing system, therefore it is binding on those tasked with the responsibility, to robustly and thoroughly overhaul AcelorMittal’s concession agreement that it will result into a win-win conclusion.

The company signed 25 years MDA in 2005. Already, 16 years have gone and left with only nine years. Technically looking at it, AML should have developed the infrastructure and talking about moving to another advance level. But not the case, rather, thinking about developing a new mine, Yuleton; which has a fairly good rich ore.

In 2019, the manager, Scott Lowe said they were planning to double their production from 5million Mt to 15 mt per year and even extend the mine life by 27 years. With that, they would need $500 million investment. The assessment is now ongoing with a team of geologists of foreign contractors going to the new mine.

The challenge is now solely in the court of the 54th National Legislature to completely silent the wailing echoes of bad management’s treatments meted out against the employees, strict compliance in keeping with the result of the viewed agreement on a win-win basis, will not be camouflaged to benefit the old guards and just little group at the expense of the greater picture which reflect the people, state and the future.

The revision exercise is not a mission impossible, instead, a mission very accomplishable and all required is, players must keenly and practically ensure that the MDA-Mineral Development Agreement is carried out to the later.
But what is surprising now is that, AML is very ambivalent in holding discussions with the governments of Liberia for the rail to be used by Guinean company to ship its ore to the Buchanan port.

But let it be clear that the Rail Road is the asset of the Liberian government according to the amended MDA.
Under ARTICLE 1 AMENDMENTS TO ARTICLE IX OF THE MDA . (LAND AND FACILITIES) states that, “For the avoidance of doubt, such transferred assets and facilities do not include the Railroad and the Buchanan Iron Ore Port and all Infrastructure associated with either of them, such assets and facilities and associated Infrastructure shall not constitute part of the CONCESSONAIRE ‘s Infrastructure, and ownership of such assets and facilities is and shall be at all times retained by the GOVERNMENT.”

Under the MDA, it is to develop the building of old LAMCO along with the infrastructures, as part of its assets. But this is not going on. Rather, the houses are still in the bad shape. Some of the places have been covered by bushes. What is more harmful to the country in the MDA, there is also no time frame put on the number of years the company would take to repair all the facilities that the government turned over to them. It only said reasonable time. Reasonable time could mean even on the last day of its operations.

What is even more annoying like one business expert said is where the Government will pay certain amount to AML. “To the extent that the CONCESSIONAIRE does not utilize its Infrastructure to-/full capacity, the GOVERNMENT shall have the right to use said Infrastructure on reasonable Notice to the CONCESSIONAIRE, provided that such use does not impair the efficient and economic conduct of the Operations. The GOVERNMENT shall pay reasonable compensation to the CONCESSIONAIRE (other, than in the case of roads and highways unless the use causes material damage thereto) within a reasonable period after invoice from the CONCESSIONAIRE in connection with such use.

This is very bad. AML could look at this and just relax and does nothing to develop the place because at the end, it will give invoice to the Liberian government to pay for anything it would use.

With all eyes curiously on the 54ths Legislature and the line sectors to break far away from previous legislatures where the controversial white pickups and other alleged persuasions were unleashed as silencer; it is now an open air challenge thrown out to the 54th Legislature to, with sober and praiseworthy performance, make a positively unique and respected difference that will be honored by posterity.

Many People do not know what is happening to the Concession Review Committee that was set up by the president in 2018. Basically to review all concession agreements in the country. Nothing much has been heard about it.

The people have suffered for too long at the hands of self-professed companies including the very AcelorMittal whose applied operational credentials are not people-centered, and hoping that the aftermath of the review process will present a new picture and posture uncompromisingly set into active motion. Effective, after the ongoing exercise of revision of all concession agreements is done with, obviously and without second thought, time to say farewell to all the rotten colonial industrious practices by managements against employees, be the inheritance of the dead and frozen past.
There are too many flaws in the MDA from start to end and we think it is about time for the country to review it thoroughly. Remember your failure to do such, will not affect the people of Nimba in particular and the country in general, but for the country.

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