Weah Appoints AML 3rd MDA Ratification Committee

MONROVIA – The long-awaited ratification of the 3rd Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) between global steel giant ArcelorMittal and the Government of Liberia is finally about to come to fruition, evidenced by President George M. Weah setting up a new presidential committee on November 29, 2022 to resolve outstanding issues with the US$1.2 billion 3rd amended investment agreement with ArcelorMittal, a move that President Weah says “demonstrates to the world that Liberia welcomes foreign direct investment and is a key emerging destination for capital.”

“We are delighted to have reached this important agreement with ArcelorMittal Liberia, our long-term partner in the development of the mining sector in Liberia,” President Weah is quoted as saying immediately following a meeting with Mr. Lakshmi Mittal, Executive Chairman of   ArcelorMittal, in Doha, Qatar, which led to the establishment of the MDA finalization committee.

According to an Executive Mansion statement issued Tuesday, the meeting between President Weah and Mr. Lakshmi Mittal centered around resolving all outstanding issues to the Revised Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) to be signed between the Government of Liberia and    ArcelorMittal (Liberia) Ltd.

“Those appointed to the Special Presidential Committee are Amb. Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr., Minister of Foreign Affairs as, Chairman; Emanuel L. Shaw II, Advisor to the President, Member; and Hon. Cllr. Archibald Bernard, Legal Advisor to the President, Member, and Secretary to the Committee.

“This new Special Presidential Committee of the Government of Liberia will work with an ad-hoc committee that is to be established by Mr. Mittal, to resolve all outstanding issues relating to the MDA.

“The Committee is further mandated to ‘meet with and engage any and all relevant authorities of the Government of Liberia and ArcelorMittal and any other stakeholders, either individually or collectively, whenever and wherever deemed appropriate in the sole discretion of the Committee, in order to ensure the finalization and implementation of the above-mentioned MDA within a reasonable time frame, and report back to the Office of the President with its findings, recommendations, and advice”.

President Weah has further directed the Special Presidential Committee to work assiduously and collaboratively in the discharge of its duties and responsibilities, in order to find a durable solution that will have due regard to the legitimate interest of all parties, while always upholding and protecting the supreme national interest of the Government and People of Liberia, the statement indicated.

It can be recalled that in March 2022, President George Weah announced his authorization for the Inter-Ministerial Concession Committee (IMCC) to engage Arcelor Mittal for the resubmission of an amendment of the draft Agreement that will be in the interest of all parties.

The announcement was contained in a communication President Weah sent to the House of Representatives through Speaker Bhofal Chambers and read in plenary.

At the time, President Weah directed the members of the Inter-Ministerial Concession Committee (IMCC), established by law for the purpose of reviewing and analyzing the points, confer with the House and then to report its findings to his for further actions.

“Thereafter, I shall authorize the IMCC to hold discussions with Arcelor Mittal for the resubmission of an amendment that fairly satisfies the needs of that company while also upholding the national interests of Liberia,” President Weah had stated in his letter to the House of Representatives at the times.

Prior to these actions, the House of Representatives without consultation with the Senate took an unprecedented move acting arbitrarily to return the AML draft Amended Agreement to the Office of the President of Liberia.

This shockingly happened despite an earlier agreement by the very House of representatives to go to conference with the Senate and resolve all differences, after the Senate passed their version of the draft Agreement which was different from that of the Lower House.

“This decision of the Lower House was widely criticized by the Liberian public including politicians and members of the private sector such as top Liberian economist, Simeon Freeman,” the Executive Mansion statement indicated.

What’s in the New ArcelorMittal MDA?

In September 2021, the Luxembourg- based worldwide steel manufacturing company ArcelorMittal signed a $US 1 billion amendment to its current agreement with Liberian Authorities to expand its operation in the country.

The amendment would pave the way for the expansion of its mining and logistics operations in Liberia.

The expansion project will evoke massive iron ore processing operations, and the expansion of the Yekepa – Buchanan rail, and the Buchanan Port facilities. This exercise would see the construction of a new ore concentrator plant and a significant expansion of the company’s mining operations.

ArcelorMittal expects to draw the first concentrate from the brownfield expansion project in late 2023 if the MDA were approved late last year.

As per the agreement with the government, ArcelorMittal will have reservation for expansion for at least up to 30million tones per annual with the company agreeing that other users could be permitted to use and invest in additional rail capacity.

ArcelorMittal CEO Aditya Mittal said: “This project is an important component of our strategic growth programmed, designed to ensure ArcelorMittal captures the best organic growth opportunities within our business.

“The Phase 2 expansion in Liberia is an excellent example of how we can leverage growth opportunities within our existing asset base to deliver sustainable, long-term value.

“Signing the MDA amendment will enable us to capitalize on and add to the infrastructure investments previously undertaken and transform ArcelorMittal Liberia into a large-scale, premium product operation.”

ArcelorMittal, which has invested more than $1.7bn in Liberia over the last 15 years, and expects to generate more than 3,000 jobs during the construction phase of the project after ratification of the draft AMD.

Liberia President George Manneh Weah said: “We are delighted to have reached this important agreement with ArcelorMittal Liberia, our long-term partner in the development of the mining sector in Liberia.

“This agreement demonstrates to the world that Liberia welcomes foreign direct investment and is a key emerging destination for capital.”

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