Deputy Speaker Fonati Koffa Optimistic of Passage of Amended ArcelorMittal Liberia MDA Describes ArcelorMittal as a major investor and key stakeholder in Liberia
Deputy House Speaker Fonati Koffa says the Third Amendment to the ArcelorMittal Liberia (AML) Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) will be ratified by the Legislature, describing the company as a major investor and stakeholder that has done more positive things in Liberia.
“Remember this…it’s a ‘catch twenty-two’ ArcelorMittal is a major investor in the country…a major stakeholder. If I were to rate them between the good and bad, they have done more positive things than negative.”
Deputy Speaker Koffa attributed the House of Representatives’ action on the Amended AML MDA to a slip by the Executive branch of government in the negotiation process.
Speaking during a live radio interview in Monrovia on Thursday, Hon. Koffa said it would be prudent had the executive, during the negotiation process focused on a performance audit of the AML’s current MDA, to ascertain the company’s level of compliance, amidst claims and counter claims by its stakeholders.
“What the House was looking for was the Executive to do a little more of accountability, giving the noise surrounding what Mittal has done or not done. When you give us that report, then, we will be able to put ourselves in a better position to explain to our citizens the process of the ratification and our mindset in ratification,” he added.
The Deputy Speaker however recognized ArcelorMittal Liberia’s contributions as a major investor and stakeholder to Liberia, adding that the company has done better for the country.
The ArcelorMittal Liberia’s third MDA amendment when ratified would see the company invest an additional amount of more than USD 1 billion, making it the largest Foreign Direct Investment under President Georg Weah’s administration.
The expansion project includes 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) and expanding up to 30 mtpa.
The project will create at least 2,000 new jobs, mainly for young people in the next three years, and generate a massive increase in socio-economic benefits in taxes, county social development, and training of Liberians among others. Following the construction of the concentration additional 1,200 permanent new skilled positions would be created for Liberians.
Under the Amended Agreement, AML’s contribution in taxes and other payments will increase to more than US$75 million annually, while also increasing its annual support to the County Social Development Funds of Grand Bassa, Nimba, and Bong counties to US$3.5 million. 20 percent of that amount will be used to fund development projects in communities directly impacted by the company’s mining operations.
In September last year, the Government of Liberia and ArcelorMittal signed the landmark Third Amendment to the company’s Mineral Development Agreement, signaling the commencement of one of the largest mining projects in West Africa.
Commenting on the agreement, his Excellency George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia, 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. It further supports the Government’s ’Pro Poor’ agenda, which is underpinned by the importance of creating jobs to lift Liberian citizens out of poverty. The further investment by ArcelorMittal in Liberia bears testament to the company’s confidence in the future of this country. We are confident that our constructive working relationship will go from strength to strength.”
Lakshmi Mittal, Executive Chairman, ArcelorMittal, said:
“The expansion underlines ArcelorMittal’s long-term commitment to Liberia and the importance of a continued productive partnership with the government which helped bring this project to fruition. I would like to thank President Weah and his administration for their invaluable commitment and support which has been critical in enabling us to sign today’s agreement.
“The expansion of the mine, processing, rail, and port facilities is the largest iron ore project in West Africa and will draw international attention to Liberia as an attractive country to invest in. The current planned expansion is part of a long-term commitment by ArcelorMittal to Liberia that includes undertaking planning for the further expansion of our iron ore asset to at least 30mtpa.”
ArcelorMittal was the first and single largest postwar investor in Liberia, demonstrating the viability of the prosperous business in Liberia. Since then, the company has remained committed to Liberia, even through some of the most difficult moments like the global financial meltdown of 2008, the 2014 Ebola outbreak, COVID-19, and now.