MONROVIA – ArcelorMittal, the global steel giant, has found itself in the midst of controversy as it faces allegations of benefiting from the transfer of iron ore mining licenses in Liberia. The accusations revolve around the withdrawal of licenses from mining firms, including Solway Mining, and the subsequent transfer of these assets to ArcelorMittal.
ArcelorMittal has chosen not to comment on the specifics of the license transfer allegations, citing confidentiality restrictions. However, the company’s response, as provided by a spokesperson, emphasizes its commitment to operating with the highest levels of integrity and adherence to international best practices in all of its operations worldwide.
The spokesperson for ArcelorMittal highlighted the company’s extensive history in Liberia, dating back to 2005 when it became an anchor investor in the country. Over the years, ArcelorMittal Liberia has played a pivotal role in the nation’s post-conflict rebuilding and economic development. As the largest employer in Liberia, the company has earned recognition from revenue authorities as the largest taxpayer and accolades from international stakeholders for its contributions to the country’s economic growth.
Regarding concerns about protracted delays in the passage of ArcelorMittal’s proposed third amendment to its Mineral Development Agreement (MDA), the company expressed optimism that the amendment would ultimately be ratified. ArcelorMittal cited its successful track record of resolving similar matters with the Liberian government and local communities in the past. The spokesperson emphasized that the proposed amendment aligns with the best interests of the country’s developmental initiatives, international investors, and the company itself.
ArcelorMittal also addressed allegations related to the usage of the rail infrastructure. The company clarified that the Third Amendment to the Mineral Development Agreement includes provisions for a comprehensive non-discriminatory multi-user access regime for the rail and port, with the Government of Liberia retaining the authority to approve users. In this arrangement, the government remains the owner of the infrastructure and has the final say on who can utilize it. ArcelorMittal has invested substantial amounts, exceeding $500 million, in rehabilitating the rail infrastructure and has committed an additional $200 million for further upgrades.
The company’s spokesperson reiterated ArcelorMittal’s commitment to a multi-user railway system that adheres to international best practices and supports cross-border traffic for both short-term and long-term sustainability.