Liberia’s economic development and industrialization are hinged strongly on the quality of available technical skills and expertise as drivers of the anticipated transformation now and in the future.
As a company whose business strategy is built around the value of investing in and developing local talents and skills, ArcelorMittal Liberia has scaled up its training programs for Liberians to empower them with world-class technical skills and education vital for the company’s mining operations and Liberia’s development drive.
Since it began operations in 2006, ArcelorMittal Liberia has been providing training opportunities for its staff, especially Liberians, who make up 97 percent of its general workforce.
These have included local and international training programs and opportunities, in the establishment of the top-notch multi-million-dollar vocational training center, the ArcelorMittal Liberia Training Academy (AMLTA).
In line with its phase two expansion project, the company has intensified the training of Liberians for the highly technical skills associated with operating complex technology such as the concentrator under construction in Yekepa.
In a recent media interview, AML CEO, Joep Coenen, revealed that the company, as part of its preparations to start exporting 15 million metric tons per annum (MPTA) of ore, is making an additional investment to expand its training academy in Yekepa, to facilitate additional training programs which will benefit talented young Liberians and AML workers.
According to CEO Coenen, the ArcelorMittal Liberia Phase Two expansion project will be one of the largest mining projects in West Africa, adding that the concentrator operations are considerably more complex than AML’s current DSO operations, which will also create opportunities for support to small businesses and investments by others in the mining sector.
Coenen told the media that AML’s Phase 2 project is the setting up of a concentrator facility to upgrade the quality and value of the iron ore in Nimba to make it a premium product that is desired by the steel industry. He explained that the project was started in 2013, but construction was curtailed because of the Ebola in 2014. The additional capital required to complete this construction is circa US$1 billion, which is in addition to the $1.7 billion already invested to date.
He added that the above investment to date includes US$500 million spent to make the rail and port operational, and that the expansion project will further upgrade this infrastructure with an additional US$200 million planned over the next two years.
Said Coenen further, “…This concentrator expansion will increase exports to 15 MTPA initially and AML plans to increase this production further to 30 MTPA. A feasibility study for this 30 MTPA Phase 3 is already underway for completion next year.”
The AML CEO added that the additional investment worth about US$1 billion will trigger an upsurge in the development of local businesses, SMEs and employment.
“AML is committed to training our Liberian employees and upskilling them to grow in the organization and taking up senior roles in the company,” he emphasized.
He said the expansion project will also see the construction of a concentrator facility to upgrade the quality and value of the iron ore in Nimba to make it a premium product that is desired by the global steel industry.
Recently, the company launched a bulk recruitment drive to identify and train hundreds of Liberians to work as process operators when the concentrator is set up. As part of that, 1,200 new skilled positions for Liberians will be created following the construction of the plant by the end of 2023.
AML has also focused on developing the skills of its employees through a series of in-service learning programs offered by its learning and development unit and the ArcelorMittal University, while at the same time providing local and international scholarship opportunities to Liberians.
Each year, the company recruits Liberians for its Advanced Studies Scholarship Program, to study at international universities, abroad.
AML recently launched a new education support initiative known as the Community Scholarship Program for twelfth graders, as well as students in accredited public colleges, and specialized tertiary educational institutions in Bong, Grand Bassa, and Nimba counties.
The Community Scholarship Program will award 100 percent of all annual scholarships to eligible students majoring in the sciences and math, who are resident in cities, towns, and villages in the immediate operational areas of ArcelorMittal Liberia (AML).
As a strong demonstration of its commitment to investing in Liberia’s youthful population to drive the country’s industrialization and development efforts, in 2019 AML launched the Young Professionals Program (YPP).
The program provides opportunities for talented and highly motivated young Liberian college graduates to develop their careers through an intensive internship program at AML and the best interns are absorbed into its employ at the end of the internship period.
The interns who participated in the first cohort have been fully employed, while an additional 19 participants were recently inducted into the program. YPP interns receive monthly stipend and meals from AML during their internship.