Refuting the misinformation about multi-user rail arrangement in the amended ArcelorMittal Liberia MDA

MONROVIA-The proposed third amendment to the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) of ArcelorMittal Liberia (AML) does not give the company exclusive rights over the railway as has been inaccurately reported by some media and proponents of the anti-AML MDA ratification.

The Government of Liberia remains the owner of the rail and port infrastructure and this Amendment provides further rights to the Government of Liberia on who can utilize the infrastructure corridor. The Proposed Amendment to the AML MDA lays out a detailed multiuser arrangement for rail and port.

The Government has even publicly clarified that ArcelorMittal Liberia has not been given exclusive rights to the rail.

“That information is false and misleading. The railway belongs to Government. Government has absolute control,” Liberia’s Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Nathaniel F. McGill explained in a recent radio interview.

Negotiating the new agreement took the parties over fifty-two weeks and the issues around rail and port access and ownership were some of the most crucial aspects that prolonged the discussions.

Even though ArcelorMittal Liberia has already invested USD $500 million into the rehabilitation of the rail and port facilities and plans to be the majority user of this infrastructure, the proposed third amended to the AML MDA strengthens the government’s demand for other users including Guinean miners to utilize the Liberia infrastructure for their export.

The other users will need to invest to increase the capacity of the rail and port for their own use and will have to pay a transit fee only to the Government of Liberia.

The third amendment ensures that AML cannot obtain any monetary benefit from other users of the rail and port.  AML also cannot allocate the rehabilitation costs that it has already incurred to other users.

This is as simple as can be, and crystal clear.

Deliberately Distorting What the US and the EU Ambassadors said

United States Ambassador to Liberia Michael McCarthy in October 2021 endorsed the amended ArcelorMittal Liberia Mineral Development Agreement which paves the way for an additional USD $800 million investment in Liberia by the iron ore mining company.

Addressing news, at the United States Embassy in Monrovia, Ambassador McCarthy said: “we were encouraged by the September 10 signing of the amended ArcelorMittal Mineral Agreement, because we understand this will bring Liberia more than $800 million in foreign direct investment, hundreds of millions more in government revenue, and significant expansion of mining sector jobs, temporary and long-term.”

Ambassador McCarthy called on the Liberian Senate to review the proposed amended MDA and consider the potential of a multi-user rail arrangement, something that has already been extensively addressed in the agreement.

“This agreement was under negotiation for quite some time, and the Senate must now do their own review, but the progress so far sends a signal to investors that deals can get done in Liberia,” the US Ambassador to Liberia said at the time.

Amb. McCarthy said the revised ArcelorMittal mineral development agreement is in the best interest of the people.

In March 2021, U.S. Ambassador Michael McCarthy, EU Ambassador Laurent Delahousse, and French Ambassador Michaël Roux toured the ArcelorMittal Liberia mining and port facilities and thanked the management for the company’s contributions to the Liberian economy as one of Liberia’s largest taxpayers, employers, and infrastructure developers,  as well as its planned investment that will expand and extend its operation, providing benefits to the government and people of Liberia for decades to come.

The recent media comments about EU Members of Parliament have raised concerns about the ArcelorMittal Liberia Mineral Development Agreement is also a clear misrepresentation of facts.   Ramona Strugariu, a Romanian politician, and member of the European Union Parliament has only introduced a question in December 2021 about good governance with the AML MDA. There has been no further response to this question to date.

All media articles about Liberia losing $2.68 billion are false and misleading and is being spread by proponents of the anti-AML MDA ratification.

The recent anti-MDA media articles are an absolute deception intended to deny Liberians and the country of the benefits of the amended MDA by a company that has been a true partner to Liberia for nearly two decades.

It’s important to set the record straight while remaining focused on the bigger picture.

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