As ArcelorMittal Initiates Phase II Expansion: Huge Logistical Movement and Additional Jobs In Sight

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ArcelorMittal Liberia will in the coming weeks engage in massive movement of logistics and equipment as the company commences Phase II of its mining operations in Liberia.

   Phase two of the company’s mining activities will, among others, include further investment in Liberia’s Buchanan port, mainly through a new fixed ship loader that will have a loading capacity of 6,000-8,000 tonnes of iron ore per hour.

   This phase will also focus on the construction of a concentrator at the mine site in Yekepa, which will produce iron ore pellets enabling ArcelorMittal to increase its production capacity to 15 million tonnes per year.

   As part of the project, AML is positioned to shortly deliver on deployment of huge number of earth moving equipment both for mines and construction works in Buchanan and in Yekepa.

   Company sources say, AML has decided it will hire a new group of workers and contract several Liberian firms to help with its deployment of logistics as a way of empowering local Liberian businesses.

   The iron ore concentrator to be built in Nimba County as part of the Phase II expansion, would require trained Liberians with the technological skills needed to handle complexities in the modern mining industry.   

   The AML Phase II project is extensively regarded as one of the largest mining projects in West Africa and promises to remake Liberia a leader in the iron ore mining industry with impact on the lives of affected communities as well as economic benefits to the entire country in royalties, taxes, County Social Development Fund, and other financial spillove.

   The expansion will also make Liberia one of the most important suppliers to the European Union’s decarbonized steel market and encourage enormous upgrades to mining, railway, and port infrastructures in Liberia.

   Beyond Arcelormittal’s county social  development fund’s responsibilities as prescribed in its MDA, the concession giant has made finances available for building the 70 km road connecting Ganta and Yekepa at the cost of more than $40 million.

   The first investor to enter post-war Liberia in 2005, ArcelorMittal confirms it has invested over $1.7 billion into the development of its operations and even proposed in its 3rd Mineral Development Agreement which would invest additional US$1 billion in the Liberian economy, allowing for an extension of 25 years.

   The 3rd Amended MDA when passed will encourage growth of small and medium sized businesses in Liberia, some of which are already offering a range of services to ArcelorMittal Liberia.

   Joep Coenen, ArcelorMittal Liberia’s Chief Executive, confirms that the 15m MTPA is only the beginning with plans underway to expand “our operations to 30m MPTA with the Feasibility Study to be presented in mid-2023”.

   He said the company’s deal has already committed a hefty U$65m (sixty five million US dollars) payment in signature bonus and reservation fees apart from the massive increase in direct and indirect revenue in the form of Royalty, various direct and indirect taxes to the Government of Liberia and its host communities.

   “ArcelorMittal Liberia’s US$1 billion expansion project is the largest foreign direct investment in Liberia under President George M. Weah’s administration and is of critical importance to investment inflow in Liberia”.

   ‘The project puts Liberia on the map as a country of enhanced mining stature, a jurisdiction that values foreign partnership, and a country that is open for doing business and facilitating foreign direct investment” he said adding that ArcelorMittal “plans to further expand the operations to approximately 30mln ton which will create major boost to Liberia’s GDP”. 

   The AML CEO believes if the deal goes through, it will contribute significantly to efforts of the Government of Liberia to lift its people out of poverty as prescribed in the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development, PAPD.

   Asked about the recent bulk recruitment drive to identify and train Liberians on the new iron ore processing plant, Cohen said the company recognizes that investing in people is fundamental to the success of the business and AML expansion project, and that is why the expansion is seeking to create an additional 2000 new jobs especially for young Liberians beginning this year and extending into the next three years of construction period

   The concentrator plant and expansion according to him will create about “1200 new skilled positions for Liberians as the plant is planned to be commissioned in 2023” why the company is at this time utilizing its Yekepa training academy, formerly the Vocational Training Center and its external network to train and prepare more Liberians to meet demands for the highly technical skills associated with operating complex technology such as the concentrator.

   Benefits in the forms of direct payments to government and affected counties stand to see upward movement when the new agreement is ratified.

   The new amended Mineral Development Agreement provides significant increments in payments to the government and AML’s contributions to the County Social Development Fund (CSDF) for Bong, Nimba and Grand Bassa as yearly Corporate Social Development Fund (CSDF) payments will increase up to $3.5 million after the amendment is ratified.

Currently 20% of the CSDF is being allocated to specific programs selected by the counties and communities, which AML is financing directly to the communities.

   In the new Mineral Development Agreement ArcelorMittal and the Government of Liberia have agreed to send 100% of CSDF contribution directly to the 3 counties, with the aim of creating increased opportunities for community development programs in these counties    

   In the new deal, AML’s contribution to the Government of Liberia in payments from (from royalties, taxes, duties, etc), will increase from the current $30-40 million annually to approximately over $75 million annually when Phase 2 is ramped up.

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