House Begins Scrutiny of ArcelorMittal Mineral Development Agreement
Capitol Hill, Monrovia – The Plenary of the House of Representatives has mandated its Committees on Investment, Judiciary, Lands, Mines & Energy; and Ways, Means & Finance to review the Mineral Development Agreement among three parties – the Government of Liberia, Arcelor Mittal Holdings A.G. and Arcelor Mittal Holdings Liberia Limited.
The Plenary’s decision followed the submission of the agreement by President George Weah to the House for ratification.
In the communication accompanying the agreement, President Weah reiterated that under the third amendment, Arcelor Mittal will among other things, make US$800 million investment in Liberia, which will provide the Government US$55 million within 19 months of ratification,
“It will develop the Yekepa-Buchanan corridor, creating much needy jobs and training for Liberians, as well as direct foreign investment toward Liberian infrastructures,” President Weah said.
In September this year, the Government, represented by President Weah and the company’s Chairman and CEO, Indian-born billionaire Lakshmi Mittal signed an amendment to the MDA which paves the way for the expansion of the Company’s mining and logistics operations in Liberia.
With the MDA amendment coming into effect, the ArcelorMittal Liberia will significantly ramp up production of premium iron ore, generating significant new jobs and wider economic benefits for Liberia.
The expansion project – which encompasses processing, rail and port facilities – will be one of the largest mining projects in West Africa. The capital required to finalise the project is expected to be approximately $0.8 billion, as it is effectively a brownfield expansion.
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 tons per annum (‘mtpa’). Under the agreement the company will have reservation for expansion for at least up to 30mt. Other users may be allowed to invest for additional rail capacity.
As the largest foreign investor in Liberia, ArcelorMittal Liberia has invested over $1.7 billion in the country over the past 15 years, the company’s data shows.
More than 2000 jobs are expected to be created during the construction phase, with Liberians envisaged to fill the majority of the roles created.
ArcelorMittal operates a Vocational Training Centre and provides two-year residential certificate training in mechanical and electrical trades.
The Joint Committee is expected to review the agreement and report to Plenary within two weeks with a set of recommendations. If Plenary votes to pass it, it will be forwarded to the Liberian Senate for concurrence.
However, with the ongoing impasse between the Liberian Senate and the House of Representatives over who is clothed with the constitutional authority to initiate the ratification of concession agreements such as this one, the agreement is expected to stall at the Legislature until the Supreme Court intervenes to explain the law.