Mittal Steel Energizes Communities’ Growth, Dev.

By: Patrick Stephen Tokpah 

Bong County- ArcelorMittal Liberia (AML) has formally launched year two of its Community Development Fund for Communities in ArcelorMittal Liberia’s Operational areas in Gbarnga, Bong County.

ArcelorMittal is a committed private sector investor in Liberia that is building resilient communities through increased investment in the Country.

Speaking at the launching ceremony of the ArcelorMittal year two of the Community Development Fund for communities in ArcelorMittal Liberia’s operational area on February 4, 2022, Marcus Wleh, the Government Relations Officer for AML, said the company will manage contracts for the projects in these various Countries or Communities.

Mr. Wleh said ArcelorMittal year two Community Development Fund for communities in ArcelorMittal Liberia’s operational area is intended to help improve the livelihood of citizens living in those affected communities, which he described as a paramount concern to the company’s management.

The Community Development Fund is the official name for the 20% County Social Development Fund that ArcelorMittal has been authorized by the Government of Liberia to disburse to the affected communities.

The Government Relations Officer for AML said the fund is a good example of the “strong partnership” that exists between the private sector and the government and it is geared towards promoting real sustainable development in mining communities.

He also expressed hope that the good experience learned from managing the first portion of the County Social Development Fund will bring valuable lessons that citizens can learn from.

“We believe that this will help to strengthen our relationship. We are hoping that after the launch today we will start rolling out the projects for the people in the vicinity of the Iron Ore Mine, people in the vicinity of the port, and along the railroad from the mine to the port in Grand Bassa County,” he said.

He further narrated that the launch of the Communities Development Fun year two will help to bring on board more Developmental activities in the three Counties.

Also, some Lawmakers in ArcelorMittal operational Counties called on the company to ensure the payment is done speedily.

On August 19, 2020, the Government of Liberia and ArcelorMittal Liberia agreed that the company shall disburse 20% of the County Social Development Fund, while it pays 80% to the Government on behalf of the beneficiary Counties.

According to the agreement, ArcelorMittal Liberia will disburse the 20-percent directly to beneficiary communities within the vicinity of the iron ore mine, port, and along the length of the railroad in Bong, Nimba, and Grand Bassa Counties through the implementation of various projects.

The 2020 allocation to the Community Development Fund was eight hundred forty thousand US dollars (US$ 840,000).

Community Development has a three-tier management structure. All projects are selected by beneficiary committees (in District Sittings) and are approved by the County Approval Committee in each County.

ArcelorMittal Liberia is to manage all contracts for goods and services and disburse payments.

Projects are in the areas of agriculture, education, roads and bridges, water, health and hygiene, community cohesion, and peacebuilding and housing.

They said, as per the 20% agreement, the company needs to directly work with the Counties’ leadership headed by the Superintendent (s), local government officials, and the citizens to identify projects of their choice and hire local contractors to implement said projects.

“We are hopeful that year two launches will affect the deserved impact that will be felt by our people in those affected communities,” they noted.

In 2005, ArcelorMittal Liberia signed the first Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) to allow the company to begin mining operations in Yekepa, Nimba County, and Buchanan, Grand Bassa county concessions.

This agreement was then renegotiated and amended in 2006.

The MDA carries stringent conditions regarding sustainable development and economic, social, and environmental investment. It aims to ensure that, while foreign companies can generate a profit from their investment in the extraction of Liberia’s resources, the country and its citizens benefit as well.

ArcelorMittal is the world’s leading steel and mining company, with a presence in 60 countries and primary steel-making facilities in 18 countries. In 2019, ArcelorMittal had revenues of $70.6 billion and crude steel production of 89.8 million metric tonnes, while iron ore production reached 57.1 million metric tonnes.

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