Yekepa, Nimba County – ArcelorMittal said it has temporarily suspended some operations at its Yekepa mine in Nimba County after a blockade of the main road to the site by Country Devil or Bush Master as part of a protest against the company.
FrontPageAfrica has gathered the Bush Masters want the company improve the living conditions of residents of the county, particularly those in affected communities in line with a 2005 amended Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) signed between the company and the government of Liberia.
Under its Economic Benefits component of the MDA, ArcerlorMittal is expected to create more than 2000 jobs, with Liberians envisaged to fill the majority of the roles created.
As enshrined in the MDA, employees will receive advanced training in the fields of mining production and operation optimisation, plant maintenance, planning and execution, plant electrical operation systems, and electrical maintenance. Other training areas include plant fitting and heavy-duty mobile equipment maintenance, as well as mine production and operations.
FrontPageAfrica has gathered the Bush Masters are claiming the company has failed to live up to the MDA and are demanding job employment for residents of the county, good road network, and better facilities for employees.
The blockade, which began on October 16 has caused the company to stop transporting ore from Yekepa to Grand Bassa County, Winston Daryoue, the company’s communication director.
As a company that priorities safety an security, Arcelor Mittal warns of associated risks on unauthorized entry of individuals into an industrial environment and condemns such illegal action, Daryoue said.
Daryoue said the company reafimns its commitment to community engagement on issues around its operations as a means of finding a common ground.
The Bush Masters’ protest comes only three weeks after the Government of Liberia and ArcelorMittal signed a landmark amendment to the company’s Mineral Development Agreement (‘MDA’) which paves the way to triple its mining and logistics operations in Liberia to export 15 million tons of concentrate annually. The additional capital required to complete the project is expected to be approximately $ 800 million.
ArcelorMittal Liberia said it is concerned about the worrying precedent being set by some of the lawmakers during their visit.
By making statements that appear to support acts of impropriety against the company; failing to fact-check derogatory remarks against the company and personnel, and refusing to follow safety and security protocols; only reinforce a state of impunity that was voiced.