MONROVIA-The Liberian government and Arcelor Mittal, the world’s largest steel company on Friday sealed another 25years Mineral Development Agreement-MDA .
The ceremony was witnessed by president George Weah and Mr. Lakshmi N. Mittal, Executive Chairman of Arcelor Mittal said.
The new agreement if ratified by the legislature, will enable the company to invest US$800M. Already, the company’s first 25 years agreement(signed in 2005) has nine more years remaining.
The new agreement means it will triple its iron ore production. “Our commitment is very strong. We will be expanding our mining operations – in the first phase tripling our current production levels to 15 million tonnes a year,” Mittal said.
Mittal continued: “We are also exploring the potential to go beyond that – up to 30 million tonnes a year. The product will also be higher quality and to deliver this premium quality we will be constructing a new concentration plant – with the first concentrate expected in late 2023.”.
Arcelor Mittal first signed a 25-year deal with Liberia in 2005 and shipped the first iron ore from its Yekepa mine in 2011.
Many people from the operation areas have expressed their unhappiness over the performance. This led to a strike action which resulted into the burning of some of equipment and subsequent arrest during the regime of former president , madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The resumption of president Weah’s government led to a call for renegotiation which lasted for two years. For instance, the government said there was need to ensure the multiple track use of the rail road; which will enable other companies to transshipment from neighboring Guinea into the port city of Buchanan.
“Another important benefit, I have also been informed, is that this agreement opens up a multi-user rail system for the transport of goods and iron ore on the rail system,” president said in a speech after the signing.
Mittal said, “To deliver on this potential, we will again need to enhance the infrastructure – for example increasing the capacity of the rail link connecting Tokadeh with Buchanan, as well as with the port of Buchanan.
“It is a very ambitious plan and one that we at ArcelorMittal are very excited about. But, ultimately, we hope that it is the people of Liberia that will benefit most from this agreement.
The expansion of our operations is expected to generate thousands of jobs for the local population during the construction and operating phases.”