MONROVIA – ArcelorMittal Liberia says it is making frantic efforts with authorities to rectify its third Mineral Development Agreement which it believes is a legacy project for Liberia.
The agreement has been costed at about $1.2 billion.
ArcelorMittal Liberia’s Chief Executive Officer, Jozephus Coenen, recently disclosed that the company honors its commitment to Liberia by investing in various initiatives, working closely with the government to finalize ratification of the Third Amendment to its Mineral Development Agreement (MDA).
Said Coenen: “while the process is taking a little while, I assure you that it remains on track and that the company is confident of closure very soon”.
The AML chief executive stressed that by securing the new investments, through the MDA ratification, a major legacy project for the government will be secured.
“Ratification of the AML MDA will have a far-reaching impact on Liberia’s economy and development and will help transform the lives and future of thousands of Liberians through quality jobs, training and development, revenue generation, and other important ways,” he added.
In mid‑September 2021, ArcelorMittal, a Belgian-headquartered multinational steel company, signed an amendment to its Mineral Development Agreement with the Liberian government.
The company’s new deal is seeking an expansion of its mining and logistics operations, committing to staying in Liberia for at least another 25 years.
The expansion project will include the construction of a new concentration plant and an upgrade of rail and port facilities linked to ArcelorMittal’s Yekepa iron ore mining operations in north-eastern Liberia.
About US$65m will be invested during the project’s first phase, which will span the coming three years, during which ArcelorMittal seeks to triple annual iron‑ore output to 15m tonnes, from 5m tonnes.
The first concentrate from expanded operations was scheduled for completion in late 2023.
Throughout the 25‑year expansion project, the company seeks to boost output to at least 30m tones and will invest about US$800m.
The Liberian Legislature is yet to approve the deal, but given its importance, approval is expected in the coming months.
President George Weah, at the time of the signing of the landmark agreement, said the deal will result in the creation of more than 1,000 direct jobs, 2,000 temporary construction jobs and more than 4,000 indirect jobs which are crucial for a country with endemic unemployment.
When approved by the Legislature, the 3rd Mineral Development Agreement ArcelorMittal will help the government raise additional customs revenue from the company’s expanded operations in the medium term.
This will benefit Liberia, which otherwise receives only small inflows of direct foreign investment (at US$87m in 2020), has limited financial and infrastructural capacity, and faces recurrent local-currency crunches, factors that will continue to weigh on political stability in the near term.