ArcelorMittal Liberia Accused of Reneging on Implementing MDA

 NIMBA COUNTY – In the aftermath of the protest action recently staged by traditional ‘Bush Masters’ in the Nimba mining concession enclave about a week ago, President Joseph Boakai has made a scathing assertion that suggests that Arcelor Mittal Liberia has over the last 20 years reneged on implementing most of its responsibility as captured in the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA).

Speaking at the Africa-US Business Summit in the United States of America recently, President Boakai was emphatic that mining companies must pay their fair share for the resources they extract, ensuring communities benefit substantially from their operations.

President Boakai remarks are an apparent rebuke to mining companies that have not attended to the welfare of communities where mineral resources have been extracted from in the name of mining concession holdings.

President Boakai stressed that natural resources cannot be replenished, adding, that we have to ensure that the country benefits while it is still there.

“A company cannot just pay salaries and do small corporate social responsibility and that’s all to talk about when that company leaves us. Investment in Liberia now will benefit the company and the people together”, President Boakai quipped.

To some extent, President Boakai’s remarks were a somewhat gauge of the conspicuous historic failures of mining operations in Liberia to sustain local communities after the closure of the mines.

Though the President’s comments about mining activities in Liberia were not a specific indictment of ArcelorMittal or any current company, it certainly says a lot about ArcelorMittal Liberia, especially when normal mining activities were halted for days in Nimba County owing to sustained protests from host communities backed by their traditional society.

The communities, mainly from Sehyi, Yarmein, and Zor Chiefdoms accused the company of not living up to the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) signed with the Government of Liberia and its social corporate responsibility to the communities and other administrative rights and privileges that should be provided employees.

For example, one persistent challenge that has dogged AML mining operation has been housing. ArcelorMittal inherited housing units from LAMCO, many of which have not been renovated for the last 20 years.

AML has extracted natural resources from Nimba County.

From an investigation conducted by The Informer Newspaper, it appears that AML has reneged on renovating the inherited units. But instead, is providing a minimum housing allowance to employees without company housing.

There are also reports that some current employees of AML are being accommodated in containers in the catchment areas of the AML.

What appears farcical is the fact that ArcelorMittal launched the Tokadeh Housing Project in 2023, aimed at constructing over 50 concrete housing units. Sadly, this project has not been realized to date. The project which is projected to accommodate 1,040 staff and includes amenities like a canteen, gym, laundry building, recreation center, mini clinic, and essential civil infrastructure is still farfetched. Even disgusting to the Liberian leader is the fact that he observes that Yekepa, the operational area of a multimillion-dollar iron ore mining project owned by ArcelorMittal, is a ghost town with nothing to show having extracted the country’s resources for over the last 20 years.

President Boakai’s comments about ghost towns were a call to address historical injustices and ensure that future and current mining operations contribute meaningfully to local and national development. On the issue of the multiusers of the railway track connecting Mount Nimba to Buchanan Port, President Boakai said, “We must ensure the railway is beneficial now while it is in use.”

The rather unpalatable poor mining operations obtained at AML and other mining concessionaires may have provoked President Boakai to express deep concern about the legacy of mineral mining in Liberia at the recently held Africa-US Business Summit in the USA.

President Boakai said, Yelena and other towns around Liberia which were once vibrant communities are now ghost towns, with their prosperity erased by the exodus of mining companies.

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