EU Reaffirms Benefits of AML 3rd MDA Amendment -Appeals for MDA Ratification despite Competing Business Interests
The European Union says Liberia is poised to become a critical supplier of Iron ore for the decarbonized steel market in the European economic zone, once the Government of ratifies Arcelormittal’s US$800 million 3rd amendment that will lead to the scaling up of iron ore production.
Making the disclosure during the 10th edition of the EU-Liberia Political Dialogue in Monrovia, which was co-chaired with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr., the Head of the European Union Delegation to Liberia, Ambassador Laurent Delahousse said, Liberia will benefit from the largest foreign investment in recent years once the 3rd amendment of the mineral development agreement with ArcelorMittal is ratified.
The EU-Liberia political dialogue was held under Article 8 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement between the EU and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) States which enables the establishment of a platform for regular and comprehensive political dialogue between EU and its partners in the region.
De-carbonization of ore involves the use of high-quality technology by retrofitting blast furnaces and adding carbon capture and storage, scaling up hydrogen-based direct reduced iron, boosting steel recycling, and slowing demand growth through more efficient steel use.
The economic benefits of decarbonized ore range from energy savings, fewer accidents, time saved from reduced congestion, and the reduced negative impacts of air pollution on health more than compensate for the initial higher up-front costs of switching to electric vehicles and building infrastructure for zero-emission public transport.
Liberia could become a key destination for iron ore investment as countries and companies around the world set the ambitious goal to become carbon-neutral by 2050 and layout a wide range of policy and institutional reforms to achieve this goal in the face of global warming and climate change.
In September 2021, the Government of Liberia and ArcelorMittal, the world’s leading steel company, signed a 3rd amendment to the Mineral Development Agreement to pave the way for the expansion of the Company’s mining and logistics operations in Liberia.
However, the submission of the Agreement with the Legislature saw an immediate negative propaganda campaign purportedly sponsored and instigated by business interests hiding behind public interest. Notwithstanding, it has become obvious that most of the opposition to the deal was conflicting business interest on rail and port access between Arcelormittal and HPX-Ivanhole, a Guinean concessionaire on the one hand; and a disagreement on land access between ArcelorMittal and Soway, a Russian-owned mining company, on the other hand. Observers have attributed the return of ArcelorMittal’s deal to the Executive by the lower House to vested interests influenced by the two companies.
Following the rectification of the ArcelorMittal deal, the company will significantly ramp up production of premium iron ore, generate 3000 significant new jobs, almost $100 million, and provide 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 with the capital required to finalize amounting to $800 million, and an additional 200 million to expand rail and port facilities.
This latest statement brings to two the number of public statements he has made in favor of the ArcelorMittal 3RD MDA.
Last week Monday, the European Union Ambassador warned of imminent economic danger if the government of Liberia fails to reach an agreement on the ArcelorMittal US$ 1 billion investment plan.
Ambassador Laurent Delahousse said if ArcelorMittal did not finalize its dream of realizing the negotiated investment in Liberia such would be “detrimental for the people of Liberia”.
He spoke last Monday with OK FM’s Clarence Jackson during a morning radio interview, noting further that he believes despite “local politics” and “competition from other mining companies”, a common ground must be found to enable ArcelorMittal to bring the needed investment which promises more than 2000 new jobs for Liberians.
According to the EU ambassador, Liberia can benefit from its natural resources if efforts are made to add value to the products on the ground already. And this is the path that ArcelorMittal US$1 billion investment would be taking, by building the concentrator to add value on Liberia iron ore before export. This would increase ArcelorMittal’s revenue payment to the government of Liberia and commitment to the counties where the company operates.
Ambassador Delahousse is not the first ranking EU official to encourage the Government of Liberia to approve the ArcelorMittal deal. His comments on the deal come after the European Union High Representative and Vice-President Josep Borrell on February 1, 2002 responded to a question that was raised by Romanian Member of the European Parliament Ramona Strugariu, which raised concerns about ArcelorMittal Liberia’s Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) with the Government of Liberia.
The European Union executive had earlier said the new AML investment will benefit Liberia and its citizens as the EU works with Liberians in promoting good governance and the rule of law and supporting sustainable and inclusive development in its policy dialogues and cooperation with partner countries including Liberia.