Some 16 years ago when Liberia was emerging from years of devastating civil crises and setting out for its first post-war democratic elections, the country stood in dire need of financial resources to facilitate and boost its post-war recovery, and that was when ArcelorMittal stepped up to the plate. On August 17, 2005, about two months to Liberia’s landmark elections, the world’s leading steel company signed a multimillion-dollar deal with the Liberian Government.
Since then, the company, sensitive to the changing realities of global concessional demands, has gone on and amended the 2005 Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) a total of three times, -the latest being the current MDA set to be forwarded to the Legislature following a considerable period of negotiation. This MDA was signed between the Liberian Government and the company on September 10, 2021, andpaves the way for the expansion of the Company’s mining operations in Liberia for the next two decades.
The largest foreign investor in post-war Liberia, the company’s $1.7 billion investment for the past 15 years is indeed helping the Weah Administration’s ‘Pro-Poor Agenda’ as acknowledged by the President himself in the aftermath of the renegotiated deal.
Impressed with the latest amendment, His Excellency President George Manneh Weah, acknowledged that further investment by ArcelorMittal in Liberia bears testament to the company’s confidence in Liberia’s future and indicates Liberia’s favorable investment climate. “This agreement demonstrates to the world that Liberia welcomes foreign direct investment and is a key emerging destination for capital. It further supports the Government’s ’Pro Poor’ agenda, which is underpinned by the importance of creating jobs to lift Liberian citizens out of poverty”, the Liberian Leader added.
The company added these remarks: “The expansion underlines ArcelorMittal’s long-term commitment to Liberia and the importance of a continued productive partnership with the government which helped bring this project to fruition. We would like to thank President Weah and his administration for their invaluable commitment and support which has been critical in enabling us to sign today’s agreement.”
With a required capital approximated at $0.8 billion to finalize the project, the expansion project includes the construction of a new concentration plant and the substantial expansion of mining operations, with the first concentrate expected in late 2023, ramping up to 15 million metric tons per annum. Following the ratification of the amended MDA, ArcelorMittal Liberia will begin significantly increasing production of premium iron ore, generating significant new jobs, with wider economic benefits for the Liberian people, which will be one of the largest mining projects in West Africa.
On the ratification of the US$800 million expansion project, the Liberian Government will secure a total of $65 million payment from ArcelorMittal, which speaks to the company’s readiness to bolster the Weah Administration’s agenda. That includes a $55 million reservation fee for further expansion rights for the project and a $10 million signature bonus.
The new amendment also strengthens the Liberian Government’s demand for other users including Guinean miners to utilize the Liberia infrastructure for their export. The companies will need to invest to increase the capacity of the rail and port for their own use. ArcelorMittal Liberia has committed to concluding a Multiuser Agreement with the Liberian Government after this agreement is ratified.
It’s also worth noting that the company will be increasing its annual contributions to Nimba, Bong, and Grand Bassa Counties from the US $3 million to US $3.5 million which will directly affect the development of communities near the company’s operations. The Weah Administration has committed to ensuring that the full envelope of this money would go directly to the affected counties to support local development.
Earlier this month, ArcelorMittal Liberia announced the kickoff of several new social development projects for these affected counties where it operates. These included a $50,000 scholarship program for students at public colleges and senior high students; donation of school supplies to 50 schools in communities around the mines and railroad in the three counties; Provision of US$15,000 as logistical support to Nimba, Grand Bassa, and Bong Counties to prepare their football teams for the 2021/2022 National County Sports Meet; renovation of the roof of the G. W. Harley Hospital in Sanniquellie, Nimba County; and the launch of the ArcelorMittal Liberia Football tournament, among others.
The company’s interest in improved technical education opportunities in several disciplines for young Liberians led to its investment of $7 million in the ArcelorMittal Liberia Training Academy (AMLTA) since 2018. This initiative is enhancing the Liberian workforce and promoting economic development for a prosperous Liberia.
As the world’s leading steel and mining company with a presence in 60 countries and primary steelmaking facilities in 18 countries, we applaud the latest joint initiative by ArcelorMittal and the Liberian Government for this expansion project which would not only triple iron ore production in Liberia but also correspondingly increase Government’s revenue and create a much-needed job for Liberians.