REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY DR. GEORGE MANNEH WEAH PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA AT THE SIGNING CEREMONIES OF THE REVISED MINERAL DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN ARCELORMITTAL S.A. AND THE GOVERNMENT OF LIBERIA.MONROVIA, LIBERIA SEPTEMBER 10, 2021
The Dean and Members of the Cabinet;
The Doyen and Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Other Officials of Government, here present;
Mr. Lakshmi Mittal, Executive Chairman of ArcelorMittal;
The CEO and Management Team of ArcelorMittal Liberia;
Members of the Fourth Estate;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:
Let me begin by welcoming Mr. Lakshmi Mittal, Executive Chairman of ArcelorMittal, to Liberia.
Many of you will recall that I was recently in Paris at the end of June this year, at the invitation of His Excellency Mr. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic of France, and the Secretary-General of the Generation Equality Forum, which was being convened in Paris under the auspices of UN Women.
During my brief stay in Paris, I was informed by my Protocol Office that they had received a request from Mr. Mittal for an audience with me to discuss matters of mutual interest between his company and the Government of Liberia.
I thereupon granted Mr. Mittal audience in the presence of Senior Ministers and Advisors of my Government. During our meeting, he outlined a number of new investment initiatives that his company intended to make in Liberia, if he could secure an amendment to their existing Mineral Development Agreement.
He also informed me that his company had been in lengthy and intense negotiations with the relevant sectoral ministers in my Government for almost two years, trying to agree on the terms and conditions under which the existing Mineral Development Agreement could be revised in the best long-term mutual interest of Liberia and ArcelorMittal as a foreign direct investor in our country, a partnership which has now lasted for some 15 years.
I listened to all that he had to say, and encouraged him to continue to negotiate with my Ministers in good faith. I made it clear to him that I do not negotiate agreements with foreign investors, but assured him that if he could convince my Government of his willingness, ability, and capability to perform the undertakings and commitments he was proposing, then it was likely that an agreement could be reached to successfully amend and extend the existing Mineral Development Agreement.
Mr. Mittal then promised me that if these negotiations were successful, he would come to Liberia to witness the signing ceremony in person, in order to signal to the world his trust and confidence in the future of Liberia as an investor-friendly country, and also to confirm to investors around the world that Liberia remains open for serious business and investment.
In my turn, I also promised him that if such an event were ever to happen, I would personally attend the signing ceremony to indicate my Government’s support for these new initiatives.
And that is why I am here today. I am glad to be here, because we are here to witness the signing of the formal agreement that should give him the opportunity to fulfill his investment goals and objectives in Liberia as he outlined to me during our meeting in Paris. I hope that everything that we talked about is in this document.
My presence here today is in fulfillment of the promise that I made to him, that if his negotiations are successful, and he comes to Liberia to sign the new agreement, I will be there with my team to observe the signing. You all know that I am a man of my word, and that I keep my promises. I am “talk and do”. My presence here today is a promise kept.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
I am told that with the signing of this Third Amendment to its Mineral Development Agreement, ArcelorMittal will invest an additional US$800 million United States Dollars into its Phase II iron ore project, which will enable them to move from producing five (5) million metric tonnes of iron ore per year to fifteen (15) million metric tonnes per year within the next three years.
I am further informed that the Agreement contains several benefits that are important to the Liberian people. For example, to name a few, the Government is to receive $55 million United States Dollars to reserve 15 million metric tonnes capacity for ArcelorMittal; and $10 million United States Dollars as signing bonus, for a total of $65 million United States Dollars.
I am also informed that this extension and expansion will result in direct spending of about $200 million United States Dollars per year into the Liberian economy over the next several years. This should result in a significant increase in total Government revenue coming from the activities resulting from this Amendment. I am told that the project will create at least 1,000 direct jobs, 2000 temporary construction-related jobs, and about 4,000 indirect jobs, and that there will be an increase in the amount of money going to communities of impact in Nimba, Grand Bassa, and Bong counties.
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.
Mr. Mittal, let me thank you for your intentions and plans to continue to invest in the future of our country. The Government considers you an important ally in its drive to accelerate the growth of our economy under our national development plan, the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development.
We look forward to a stronger partnership and closer cooperation over the years ahead.
Thanks to you and your team for their determination to achieve this investment milestone. I know it was a difficult negotiation, but we have been able to arrive to this point today because of our joint commitment to work together for the prosperity of all Liberians.
I also would like to thank my able team of Sectoral Ministers for their diligence and persistence in assuring that we could come to a meeting of the minds with ArcelorMittal on what they feel is the best way forward under the Amended Mineral Development Agreement.
The task to making all this happen is only just now beginning with the signing of the Agreement. The next step is to obtain the full endorsement of the Cabinet after due consideration, and then to work with the National Legislature for ratification, and after that to implement what you have agreed to today, so that together we move into a future of jobs and prosperity for Liberians.
I thank you.