Arcelor Mittal 800m Deal Gains Growing Interest among Civil Society Organizations


Youth and student Civil Society Group “Coalition of Youths & Students for Better Liberia” (COYSBL) has expressed supports for the US$800million ArcelorMittal Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) Amendment between the Government of Liberia and the company.

The Coalition said after scrutinizing the US$800million ArcelorMittal Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) Amendment, it is hereby convinced that the Agreement “is in the supreme interest of the Liberian People and calls for its speedy ratification by the Legislature”.
After 52 weeks of negotiation by the Government of Liberia (GOL), through the Inter-Ministerial Concession Committee (IMCC), the Government of Liberia signed the ArcelorMittal MDA Amendment on September 10, 2021. A few days ago, President Weah presented the US$800million extended Arcelor Mittal deal to the Legislature for ratification.
Speaking on behalf of the youth and student coalition at the news conference, the group’s Chairman Jeremiah Paye stated: “With series of misinformation and negative propaganda emanating from several quarters, including a handful of citizens from one of the affected counties, our analysis of the ArcelorMittal Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) Amendment indicates that a ratification of the deal by the Legislature will greatly lead to increment in the company’s tax portfolio and royalties, rise in the company’s annual support to the National Budget; a significant reduction in unemployment in Liberia; an increase in the company’s social contributions range to affected counties (Nimba, Grand Bassa & Bong); amongst others”.
The Coalition of Youths & Students for Better Liberia then boasted of several achievements of ArcelorMittal Liberia in the last 15 years. Mr. Paye then detailed the company’s accomplishments as follows:
“Since the commencement of its operations in Liberia, ArcelorMittal has provided direct and indirect jobs for over 5,000 Liberians; Liberians currently hold 66% of the senior management positions at ArcelorMittal Liberia. Since 2006, ArcelorMittal Liberia has spent over $38m on County & Social Development Fund”.
He continued: “Community Development Fund (CDF) has been launched, ensuring that 20% of CSDF goes directly to affected communities for development. ArcelorMittal Liberia has been contributing the US $3.0 million annually for the three counties in which it operates (Nimba, Grand Bassa & Bong)” adding that “to date, the company has paid $45 million towards this commitment. AML has made a US $40 million commitment to fund the paving of Yekepa to Ganta Highway after the people of Nimba complained that LAMCO had not built this highway during its decades in Liberia.
On the side of healthcare, Paye disclosed that ArcelorMittal spent $18 million to undertake major renovations of the existing health infrastructure and upgraded health facilities in its concession area and outside of its concession areas. Across Liberia, ArcelorMittal Liberia spent $5.52 million to help the Government response to EBOLA and COVID-19”.
The Chairman of the Coalition of Youths & Students for Better Liberia” (COYSBL) argued that most other companies abandoned West Africa during the EBOLA & COVID-19 outbreak, but AML remained and supported the fight against the diseases. In education, AML has spent $1.7 million to date on its Overseas Scholarship program that has seen 29 candidates attend universities outside Liberia, in line with the 2007 MDA Mineral Development Agreement”.
Still speaking on ArcelorMittal Achievements, the group further stated: “With Housing, 32 housing units have been renovated and are currently occupied in Buchanan while 296 houses have been fully renovated and occupied in Yekepa. In Electricity, ArcelorMittal greatly contributes towards the execution of plans for the West Africa Power Pool(WAPP) line connecting Liberia with Cote D’Ivoire.

As per the 2007 MDA, AML established a safety program, aimed at educating communities that border the railway, many of which have not experienced rail traffic in 20 years”.
Speaking of the current US$800Million Agreement before the Legislature for ratification, Chairman Paye provided several benefits for Liberians that are contained therein.

“The Coalition of Youths &Students for Better Liberia wants to make it unequivocally clear that a critical review of the US$800million ArcelorMittal Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) Amendment currently before the Legislature for ratification shows that many of the benefits, including taxes, royalties, CSDF, contributions to affected communities, and other contributions by the company, as contained in the MDA will be significantly increased.”
The expansion project, which encompasses processing, rail, and port facilities – Paye noted “will be one of the largest mining projects in West Africa” to include the construction of a new concentration plant and the substantial expansion of mining operations, with the first CONCENTRATE expected in late 2023, ramping up to 15 million tonnes per annum (‘mtpa’).

Under the new ArcelorMittal agreement already signed with the executive, the company will have reservations for expansion for at least up to 30mt.

At these expanded levels, the iron ore exports the company and the executive branch of government have said will create a major boost to Liberia’s GDP.

In conclusion, the Coalition of Youths & Students for Better Liberia noted that during these hard economic times, especially when the Government of Liberia is faced with the challenge of budgetary support, rejecting the ArcelorMittal Amendment should not be an option.
“Rejecting the amendment of an existing agreement between the Government of Liberia and ArcelorMittal will send a wrong message to would-be investors that Liberia is not investment friendly’- Paye warned.

Meanwhileble Partners for Sustainable Development, PaSD believes, if there are some provisions of the ongoing AML MDA that have not been implemented, rather than calling for the rejection of the new deal and denigrating the company, policymakers, leaders, and senior citizens should sit with the company, understand the reason(s) for the failure and determine the genuine solution

The organization says it strongly holds the opinion that many inflammatory statements in the press against the company’s operations especially from senior citizens and national leaders have the propensity to incite citizens in concession areas into violent and non-cooperation actions.

“Something we think is counterproductive to national effort to attract investors to the country and these happening does not portray Liberia as an investment-friendly environment and could scare away new foreign direct investment” PSD stressed.

The Partnership for Sustainable Development is calling on the Government and the AML to jointly review the Ebola and COVID-19 outbreaks to establish those incidents impact on the company, Government of Liberia operations, and the full implementation of roles and responsibilities as outlined in the ongoing MDA before shifting blames.

According to the institution, rejection of the company’s request for expansion should not be an option for decision-makers, leaders, senior and ordinary citizens of the concession areas and the country as doing so could cost us to lose 80 million in annual revenue, 3000 new employment, development of various infrastructure, the elevation of Liberia in the Global mining community amongst others

PSD argues that if there is ambiguity in the rail, port, education, health and other clauses, policymakers, leaders, senior and ordinary citizens of the concession areas and the country must concentrate on improving on those clauses in the proposed new MDA rather than using same to spell negative propaganda about the company thereby causing the country’s investment image to be ruined.


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