Affected Communities Want ArcelorMittal Stay in Liberia Extended -Says Nimba Kwadoo

Nimba Kwadoo, an influential grassroots citizen advocacy group, says its engagement with citizens across Nimba County has found out that nearly all of the communities affected by ArcelorMittal’s operations are in favor of the company remaining in Liberia and that its mining concession agreement should be extended.

The pronouncement by Nimba Kawdoo, which has been at the forefront of various groups opposing the new AML one billion United States Dollar mineral development agreement, comes after a weeklong citizens’ engagement.

According to the Deputy Board chairman of Nimba Kwadoo, Alexander Suah, and National President Isaac Z Dahn, during a live press conference in Ganta City to brief the people of the county on what they have discovered during the period of a week as they quizzed citizens in various communities of the county on the benefits the company has brought to them since its operation began nearly fifteen years ago, ArcelorMittal has positively impacted the lives of citizens within and beyond its concession area.

At the press conference which lasted for more than 30 minutes on Radio Kergarhma 94.5 FM in Ganta City, Nimba Kwadoo deputy Board Chairman Suah said while the citizens realize that Mittal has positively affected their lives in many ways, they also want to be a part of the decision making processes that relate to the new AML Deal.

“Some of the things that Mittal was not doing, they have started to do, and it is true that the people want them to stay,” Suah averred.

The Nimba Kwadoo Deputy Board Chairman informed the audience that the company has recently increased its community development initiatives and contributed to schools, and hospitals as well as employed more than 250 new employees, some of whom come from the affected communities.

He said the purpose of their meeting with local residents was to gather firsthand information on what was obtaining in the communities that are affected by the mining operations of ArcelorMittal to enable the group make informed decisions on behalf of the people of Nimba.

Said Suah: “after the AML deal was sent back to the Executive, we wanted to include our recommendation and those of other Nimba groupings into the new agreement that will be sent to the National Legislature for passage”, noting that the tour has made Nimba Kwadoo to understand that people are using the citizens of Nimba to misdirect their energy, while the problem still remains.

According to Suah, the assessment additionally informs his Nimba Kwadoo that the people of the county must “direct our anger the right way, using less time to get maximum results”, rather than agitating against the people who are actually not responsible.

The visit to eleven communities across Nimba he noted was an “an eye-opener” which suggests that when critical reasoning is applied, one would understand that Arcelor Mittal has been doing a lot for the communities, even though these communities have not seen or felt the benefits of the beneficiations carried out by the concession.

“When you get to some of the communities you feel so discouraged about full representation; you will also get to know that Mittal has been doing XYZ things that favor and should have moved the affected community from one place to another but that has not been happening because those people who should be ensuring that the citizens benefit are not doing so,” the Nimba Kwadoo executive noted.

Nimba Kawdoo in its media foray suggested that the bulk of the social corporate responsibility funds given by the company to the affected counties have not been substantially utilized to the benefit of the local communities.

The Deputy Board chairman of Nimba Kwadoo-Alexander Suah and National President Isaac Z Dahn added that once the people in the communities want the company to stay, they will continue to remain positively engaged.

In September 2021, the Government of Liberia and ArcelorMittal signed a landmark amendment to the company’s Mineral Development Agreement which paved the way for additional investment of approximately USD $800 million to expand the company’s mining and logistics operations in Liberia.

The deal was later expanded to US$1 billion to include additional funding for rail and port facilities expansion.

When the MDA amendment takes effect, ArcelorMittal Liberia will significantly ramp up production of premium iron ore, generating significant new jobs and wider economic benefits for Liberia.

The expansion project will cover the processing, rail, and port facilities and the construction of a new concentration plant as well as the substantial expansion of mining operations, with the first concentrate expected in late 2023, ramping up to 15 million tons per annum.

More than 2500 jobs are expected to be created during the construction phase, with Liberians envisaged filling the majority of the roles created. As the largest foreign investor in Liberia, ArcelorMittal Liberia has already invested over $1.7 billion in the country over the past 15 years.

Comments are closed.