MONROVIA: The Liberian American-Swedish Mining Company (LAMCO) corporation for decades mined iron ore in Nimba Mountain Range during the second half of the twentieth century.
Founded in 1955 by American and Swedish investors, the company established the first large-scale mining operation in Liberia following the discovery in the 1950s of the Nimba ore deposit by geologist Sandy Clarke.
This led to the construction of a standard gauge railroad about 360 km long, linking the mine in Nimba country, to the Port of Buchanan, a project that was managed by LAMCO, Bethlehem Steel, and the Liberian government.
Liberia would later introduce a nationalization policy intended to gradually phase out the non-Liberian staff at the mine but by 1989 ore that was profitable for extraction by market rates in the Nimba range had been exploited forcing a takeover by the Liberian Mining Corporation (LIMINCO).
Reports have it that LIMINCO was formed to maintain Liberian ports and railways and to facilitate a joint project with Guinea, known as the Nimba International Mining Company (NIMCO), to extract ore on the Guinean side of the border, and transport the same to Buchanan for export.
All of LAMCO and LIMINCO’s mining activities did not take into consideration sustainability thereby leaving behind a myriad of environmental impacts for generations for years.
This is a mistake ArcelorMittal Liberia which is part of the ArcelorMittal group, the world’s leading steel and mining company and the leader in all major steel markets such as construction, domestic appliances, packaging and automotive said it cannot afford to repeat.
ArcelorMittal has strived to remain in the circle of sustainable mining which refers to the reduction of negative environmental, social and governance impacts of mining operations.
To achieve this, the Belgium headquartered firm incorporates practical responsible stewardship of the natural environment, meeting requirements for host communities’ resources and at the same time ensuring the needs of future generations of Liberians can also be met.
Early 2022 AML took a giant step towards a complete turnaround from the LAMCO mining area by producing a high-grade concentrate (iron ore concentrator), which requires approximately 25 million tons annually of raw ore to produce 15 million tons of concentrated product.
The plant was uncertainly scheduled to be built in Buchanan but got relocated to Yekepa in Nimba County after Liberia’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and AML agreed it was necessary to do so to prevent effluent tailings from the ore concentrators could be managed near the mine site, rather than exposing the sensitive marine eco-system in Buchanan to the potential impact of a mining operation.
In line with environmental standards, feasibility studies that ArcelorMittal Liberia conducted on where exactly to construct the ore processing plants also show that it is technically efficient and cost-effective to locate the concentrator near the source of the iron ore in Nimba County.
This was a decision any serious firm with “sustainability in business” at the top of its priority would take given that this strategy reduces the chances of negative environmental impact on the Buchanan marine ecosystem.
Already, the United Nations Development Program UNDP Plastic has warned that various forms of pollution pose a severe threat to the sustainability of Liberia’s fisheries and marine resources.
So, the relocation of the ore concentrator plants was in fulfillment of ArcelorMittal’s sustainable mining principle of safe, maintainable mining in Liberia.
Throughout her existence in Liberia, AML has stood out for safety, sustainability, quality, and leadership, each built on a foundation of health and protection aimed at promoting growth and development Liberia.
With its phase two expansion fast progressing, the company has reported zero safety issues at any of its operational areas and continues to work to minimize the impact of its mining operations on the environment.