Iron ore is an essential component of the global iron and steel industries with almost 98% of mined iron used in steel making across the world.
Companies like AML make up about fifty countries involved with mine iron ore, with Australia and Brazil dominating the market share for exports.
In 2020, nearly 23.5 million metric tons of iron ore were produced in West Africa alone with Liberia being a central part of this production.
Within the period reviewed, the production peak was reached in 2014 at almost 38 million metric tons with producer countries considered as Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, and Mali, in order of the largest producers who were responsible for over 2.7 percent of the iron ore produced worldwide in 2020.
What is key to note is a fully commercial iron ore mine like the one operated by ArcelorMittal in Yekepa requires heavy capital investment in infrastructures.
These comprise rail lines and heavy machinery and factors impacting cost including the type of metallic iron that is economically retrievable at the mining site, distance to market, government regulations, and fuel costs.
In AML’s phase two expansion, the central point of concentration is the construction of an ore procession plant in Nimba to not just help ramp-up production to thirty million tons of ore per annual (mpta), but also help upgrade the quality of ore shipped out of the country.
At current, the ore mined in Yekepa is not the best of quality grade compared to what is expected to be exploited on the Guinean side of the ore deposit.
The construction of the ore concentrator is key for the mining industry in Liberia to help blend the ore generally which refers to the combination of existing ore according to the production index prior to the ore be dressed.
The key purpose of the ore concentrator been constructed by ArcelorMittal Liberia is to make the mixed ore properties more convenient for production, thus improving production efficiency and reducing production cost.
So, for the first time in Liberia’s mining history the country stands benefit the deployment of high tech that can ensure production is uniform during iron ore processing, which guarantees normal production.
The production of high-quality ore is not just beneficiary locally, but this stands out to position Liberia as a key player in the European Union’s new policy on zero emission steel.
This is important because, around the world, economies and industrial sectors are undergoing important transformations driven by the urgency of addressing climate change, an effort AML as a leading global steel giant has fully committed itself to cognizant of the fact that it is one of the key players in an energy-intensive industry which is so hard to decarbonize.
However, ArcelorMittal’s numerous technology options being deployed through this phase two expansion can support such drive to produce ore that can in return lead to the decarbonization of the steel produced in an integrated manner.
The project considerably offers growth potential for small medium size business as well as infrastructure upgrade for Liberia’s railway and to grow internal capacity and revenue generation at the port of Buchanan.
The expansion brings renewed commitment by ArcelorMittal Liberia for continuous enhanced engagement relative to delivery in health, education, and local community development initiatives.
As AML’s production increased, the company will ultimately step-up its payment in taxes, royalties and other associated fees that can help service Liberia’s development challenged.
But all this good require substantial support from communities and the national government towards the full implementation of ArcelorMittal’s Phase Two Expansion.