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Why have you decided now is the right time to go ahead with Phase 2 in Liberia

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As you probably know, it’s something we have been looking at for a long time (the project was previously stopped due to Force Majeure during the Ebola outbreak in 2014). We’ve been operational in Liberia since 2011, and Phase 1 of the project has been a success, but ultimately for us to maximise the full value and potential of the asset, we need to take it to Phase 2.
The results from our mining business demonstrates the benefits of diversification to our group. And this is a good project consistent with our capital allocation framework (brownfield, enhances margins). The expansion will reduce production costs, it will be a premium product (which will achieve premium prices vs. the discounts on the DSO) ensuring a very competitive asset and attractive margins even under conservative iron ore price scenarios.
Health & Safety is our priority, and we are committed to our Journey to Zero: with the aim of achieving zero fatalities and severe lost time injuries (LTIs). Indeed, AML’s recent track record of zero fatalities and LTIFR at zero shows how much progress has been made through various initiatives and training that have been carried out.
We don’t tend to comment on specific cases but in this case, as you’ve asked a direct question: Every accident is tragic, and the company works hard to learn from that incident to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Such injuries as Stephen’s tragic accident, which happened about 5 years ago, are exceedingly rare. AML policy is to take all reasonable steps to assist injured workers transition to life after injury and to ensure that that Liberian standards for dealing with injured workers are met or exceeded.
More generally I can let you know that the company follows the CBA agreement and remains in full compliance. We also have a Workman Compensation insurance policy that covers all job-related injuries and illnesses. In addition to the Workmen Compensation coverage, we also contribute towards employees National Social Security injury scheme, which supports workers experiencing on the job injuries and if an employee suffers a permanent disability they will receive a lump sum compensation.
2) A quick look at AML’s investments
ArcelorMittal Liberia has invested over 1.7 Billion US dollars in this project and reopened the iron ore mining industry in Liberia after a hiatus of over 20 years. It has only had one year (2013) that was marginally profitable and those proceeds were re-invested the Phase 2 project that was started at that time. To date the company has not recouped any of its investment in country and is currently on the threshold of investing another 800 million dollars, making it the largest FDI during President Weah’s administration.
AML is actively supporting the Development of Liberia: The contribution of up to US 40 million for the construction of the Ganta-Yekepa Road, the Community Development funds $3 million per annum and other social actions (Hospitals, Schools). More importantly the number of jobs maintained since the drop in the iron price in 2015 and number of jobs created since the development of Gangra support the desire of the ArcelorMittal to remain an investor of choice in Liberia.

3) What has AML achieved for Liberia over the past 15 years that it has been in country?
AML is the Highest Tax Contributor in the Natural Resource Sector of the country and the highest tax contributor in comparative terms. The Liberia Revenue Authority has on more than one occasion certificated AML at a National Tax Appreciation Event. Besides, AML provides US$200,000.00 annually for an advanced scholarship program for Liberian students. 48 students have benefited so far. No other concessionaire has invested so broadly in education than AML. AML also runs several schools in Nimba and can proudly lament that the company-run schools are among the best schools in Liberia evidenced by national exam scores for the last 5 years. Support to livelihood support to communities is the single largest across all concessionaires.
• AML has been one of the largest revenue contributors in Liberia with payments to Government exceeding $280 million to date. When Phase 2 is fully ramped up these payments will reach approximately $75 million annually.
• Employment: Hiring by AML and its contractors like Odebrecht began in 2007. By 2008, some 3,000 local people were employed both directly and indirectly through construction projects. This number surged again in 2013 with the Phase 2 construction that increased the number of local jobs on the concession to 5000. With the suspension of construction due to Ebola force majeure by contractors these numbers dropped in 2015, but have now increased to approximately 2500 direct and indirect jobs in 2021 from AML operations alone.
• Hospitals Renovated: AML reopened two hospitals in Yekepa and Buchanan to provide medical care to both employees and local residents; undertook an extensive anti-malaria campaign in partnership with USAID; ( Can we add (i) number of pateints seen each year?(ii) recent investments made)
• Schools Opened: AML reopened two elementary schools and one high school in Yekepa, providing education both to ArcelorMittal employees’ children as well as those from the surrounding communities. Employees in Buchanan are reimbursed for their children’s school tuition fees.( Can we add number of students educated per year and ranking of our school at national level)
• Management of CSDF: AML has been contributing US $3.0 million annually for the counties in which it operates. To date the company has paid $45 million towards this commitment. In response to citizen complaints that the funds were not benefiting the affected communities, AML convinced GoL that 20% of these funds should be managed directly by these communities. This program kicked off in 2020. CSDF contribution will increase up to $3.5mln million after the amendment is ratified.
• Overseas Scholarships: AML has spent $1.7 million to date on this scholarship program.
• Vocational Training Centre: AML reopened the Yekepa VTC in 2017 by spending US $7 million to refurbish this state-go-the-art training facility. Enrolment to date is 159 students and first batch of 45 recently graduated in 2021
• Environmental Stewardship: Protecting and promoting biodiversity is another important element of ArcelorMittal’s strategy for Liberia. Some of the country’s most accessible iron ore deposits are found in the remote Nimba mountain range, which is also one of West Africa’s few remaining wet-zone forests and home to many rare species. Conscious of minimising disruption to these fragile ecosystems, ArcelorMittal convened a team of non governmental organisations, international conservation groups and governmental stakeholders including the Liberian Forestry Development Authority, Conservation International, Flora & Fauna International and the Côte d’Ivoire-based Afrique Nature. The resulting year-long ecological study highlighted both the fragility of this environment and also the potential for ArcelorMittal to not only mitigate further ecological damage to the region, but indeed to start reversing this history of decline.
• Safety: Examples of AML’s commitment to safety in the community are: As part of the railroad rehabilitation, an ongoing safety programme aims to educate those communities that border the railway, many of which have not experienced rail traffic in 20 years. This Road and Rail awareness campaign uses street theatre to educate local communities on safety issues. The street theatre campaign, conducted both in English and local languages, has so far reached 23 of the larger local communities as well as local schools where puppet shows are used to raise awareness.
• Ganta Yekepa Highway: AML has made a US $40 million commitment to fund the paving of this important highway. The key section between Ganta and Sanniquellie is expected to be completed in mid 2022. The people of Nimba had complained that LAMCO had not built this highway during its decades in Liberia.
• WAPP CLSG Line: When ArcelorMittal entered Liberia in 2005, the country had no electricity other than private generators. Together with Ministry of the then Lands, Mines and Energy, WorldBank and ECOWAS, AML participated in helping with the execution of plans for the WAPP line connecting the country with Cote D’Ivoire for the provision of electricity. This project is depending on AML being a large offtaker of electricity and accordingly the line has been routed via Yekepa and Buchanan.

4) What are AML’s commitments under the new Amendment that is signed in September 2021?

• Employment: More than 2000 jobs are expected to be created during the construction phase, with Liberians envisaged to fill the majority of the roles created. With the increase in production volumes, the operations teams will also see a surge of about 1000 new jobs.
• Liberia becomes major iron ore producer: The expansion project – which encompasses new processing facilities, and further expansion of rail and port facilities – will be one of the largest mining projects in West Africa. It 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’). Under the agreement the company will have reservation for expansion for at least up to 30mt. At these expanded levels, these iron ore exports will create a major boost to Liberia’s GDP.
• ArcelorMittal technology for concentration: The company will use its proprietary knowledge to produce a high quality concentrate utilizing the available deposits in the concession area. While the bulk of iron ore found in Liberia cannot be sold as DSO (i.e. without processing), AML’s commitment to build these concentrators adds significant value to Liberia’s natural resources.
• Rail and Port open to other users: This agreement strengthens GoL’s demand for other users including Guinean miners to utilize the Liberia infrastructure for their export. The companies will need to invest to increase the capacity of the rail and port for their own use. AML has committed to concluding a MultiUser Agreement with GoL after this agreement is ratified.
• CSDF annual payments increase up to $3.5 million after the amendment is ratified.

5) AML made a substantial investment in the VTC and we’re told it is transitioning into an even broader and more diverse facility in terms of the kinds of training courses and programs being offered. AML has said that its employees are its greatest resource. What does this really mean?

• Developing the skills of Liberians is essential to our strategy. We’re committed to localisation. Ninety-seven percent of our employees are Liberians at the moment. We are building a new processing plant that turns low-quality ore into high-quality products, and we’re also introducing new technology in rail loading, unloading, and ship loading. So, it’s much-more advanced technological equipment that we’ll be using. So, with that, we will need to provide greater skills for the Liberian workforce. A lot of effort is going into developing our people’s skills and we get tremendous feedback from the work we do with our vocational training centre (what we’ll now be calling our ArcelorMittal Liberia Academy) and we know that increasing the skills of our workforce is absolutely critical.
• Since 2017, our Vocational Training Centre has helped young people develop globally recognised vocational skills. Despite Covid-19, 97 students enrolled in 2020. Our first Group of 45 apprentices graduated from the three-year residential programme in May 2021
• We’re very proud of the graduates of our vocational training facility. We are now making some changes there to not only increase the number of students but also introduce more advanced skills in minerals processing, logistics, safety, and management supervision. So, our vocational training facility will not only be bigger, it will be better. It is producing great results today for our current direction, for a larger and more technologically advanced operation, we need more people and we need higher levels of skills and so we’re in the process right now of expanding and improving that facility.
• We also provide scholarships for talented young Liberians to travel internationally and be trained internationally in a wide range of disciplines in geology, in engineering, human resources and a range of disciplines and so we financially support those promising young Liberians to acquire those skills and qualifications and come back and contribute to the success of AML.

6) AML is failing on distributing annual CSDF [US$4.2m in 2021 including some deferred funds – reverting to $3.0M in 2024] to projects and causes in its concession areas in Nth and South. When can we see the money?
AML does pay to the Govt for community projects. AML understands the challenge of communities who have improvement plans and want access to these funds. In 2020, AML discussed and agreed with the Govt that now 20% of the CSDF will be allocated to specific programs selected by appropriate comities including community. We believe this is an important step for such funding to reflect actual community concerns.
AML is the Highest Tax Contributor in the Natural Resource Sector of the country and the highest tax contributor in comparative terms. The Liberia Revenue Authority has on more than one occasion certificated AML at a National Tax Appreciation Event. Besides, AML provides US$200,000.00 annually for an advanced scholarship program for Liberian students. 48 students have benefited so far. No other concessionaire has invested so broadly in education than AML. AML also runs several schools in Nimba and can proudly lament that the company-run schools are among the best schools in Liberia evidenced by national exam scores for the last 5 years. Support to livelihood support to communities is the single largest across all concessionaires.

7) AML, when compared to LAMCO, has done little to improve the lives of the locals.
This is incorrect. The context and facts do not support the claim. Stipulations in the Mineral Development Agreement signed between AML and GOL and the agreement between LAMCO and GOL are very different. AML is mandated to provide a lump sum annual payment to the project counties (Nimba, Bong, and Grand Bassa) in the name of county development. This was not the same with LAMCO. Total payment since 2013 has exceeded US$20M. Counties now have the free hand to decide on projects and deliver them based on collective decisions made through county sittings by relevant stakeholders across the counties. LAMCO was not mandated to make such payment so it could afford to invest in other high visibility projects.
8) AML has failed to invest in the infrastructure.
This is also incorrect. AML has invested heavily in infrastructure. Total investment to date exceeds US$1.7 bn. The building of the mines at Tokadeh and Gangra, the rehabilitation of the Buchanan Port, the re-building of the rail track, the investment in the hospital and living quarters and workstations have come at a huge cost. The flagship Ganta to Yekepa road project is proudly sponsored by ArcelorMittal Liberia. That this was not an MDA commitment, AML prides itself as a friend of Liberia.
9) The company is basically ripping the country apart and contributing little to social services and taxes.
AML is the Highest Tax Contributor in the Natural Resource Sector of the country and the highest tax contributor in comparative terms. The Liberia Revenue Authority has on more than one occasion certificated AML at a National Tax Appreciation Event. Besides, AML provides US$200,000.00 annually for an advanced scholarship program for Liberian students. 48 students have benefited so far. No other concessionaire has invested so broadly in education than AML. AML also runs several schools in Nimba and can proudly lament that the company-run schools are among the best schools in Liberia evidenced by national exam scores for the last 5 years. Support to livelihood support to communities is the single largest across all concessionaires.

10) What has AML done in respect to Healthcare?
AML has undertaken major renovation of the existing infrastructure, and upgraded health facilities in its concession area and outside of its concession area at an estimated cost of over $18 million. As per MDA requirements, AML rehabilitated, equipped, and operates 2 hospitals in Yekepa and Buchanan. Over 30,000 people receive medical care from health facilities operated AML.
Additional major renovation and improvements are ongoing at the Buchanan hospital. We have also provided direct support to the Liberia Government Hospital.
Across Liberia, AML spent $5.52 million to help the Government to respond to EBOLA and COVID-19.

11) What has AML done in respect to Education?
Over $ 1.7 million has been spent on advanced foreign scholarship in line with our Mineral Development Agreement. The CSDF that AML provides to Grand Bassa County ($1 million) has a scholarship component that currently provides scholarships to students of Grand Bassa County.
Establishment of USD $ 7 million top-notch Vocational Training Center (VTC). People from Grand Bassa County are among the highest enrolled students at VTC.
Rehabilitation and operationalization of schools in Yekepa with over $ 5 million spent to date. Launch of advanced international job-training for Liberian staff.

12) What has AML done in respect to Employment for Liberians?
Liberians hold 7 of 9 senior management posts at AML. That is about 67% influence at the senior management level. Plans are in the works to recruit a Liberian Country Manager to beef up the numbers in the senior management team.
Liberians currently hold 66% of the senior management positions at ArcelorMittal Liberia. This exceeds the 50% of senior management minimum required by the MDA. Over 96% of all positions are held by Liberians.
AML is an equal opportunity employer that does not employ people on the basis of religion, ethnicity. Both Grand Bassa and Nimba Counties have the highest representation of residents in the workforce.
52% of all AML local vendors are Liberian-owned. We will provide figures on vendors from Grand Bassa soon

13) What has AML done for County Social Development Fund?
AML values its relationship with our communities, especially those in proximity to our operations. Since 2006, over USD $38m has been contributed in County Social Development Fund.
Community Dev. Fund (CDF) has been launched, ensuring that 20% of CSDF goes directly to affected communities for development. We are working with communities to ensure that the CDF provides direct development dividends to our local communities.

14) What does AML do to promote Liberian Services and Materials?
52% of all AML local vendors are Liberian owned. We are also using local channels like the Hatayee shops and other areas frequented by young people and businesses to spreading the word about opportunities in AML.
15) Does the AML MDA Amendment conflict with any other agreements signed by the Government of Liberia?
AML and GoL via the IMCC and Ministry of Justice have spent 51 weeks negotiating the current agreement that was signed on Sept 10, 2021. The GoL team was especially cognizant of other agreements signed by them and ensured that the AML MDA Amendment does not violate any legal agreement entered into by the Government of Liberia. The goal of the Government was to ensure the possibility of a multi-user railroad and port framework, which is now provided in this 3rd Amendment. In fact this Amendment is much closer to the objectives set under other agreements signed by GoL than AML’s existing rights and obligations.

16) Does the AML MDA Amendment violate the Implementation Agreement signed by the Governments of Guinea and Liberia?
The Implementation Agreement specifically acknowledges that conditions of access granted to ArcelorMittal would not be deemed discriminatory and that Liberia commits to integrate the right of access into any amendment to the ArcelorMittal MDA. Accordingly the following has been incorporated:
• GoL has the sole authority to approve a request for access to Yekepa to Buchanan rail and port infrastructure based on the external applicant’s information such as feasibility studies and financing arrangements. AML can only provide comments as the Railroad Operator. Final approval of any Access Agreement is solely by GoL;
• An interested party may access the railroad and a portion of the Port and complete expansion project at its own cost;
• All users of this infrastructure will be members of the Joint Management Committee and they have the power to recommend the removal of AML as operator if there is breach of the Rail Operating Principles or if AML is RSOP or if AML discriminates against other users;
• AML has conceded an area within the Port of Buchanan for other users to build their own berths.

17) Does the AML MDA Amendment violate the Framework Agreement between Ivanhoe Liberia, SMFG and the Government of Liberia?
It is AML’s understanding that this Framework Agreement already acknowledges the AML MDA and its pre-existing rights and obligations. The 3rd Amendment does not expand any of AML’s pre-existing rights, but instead seeks to clearly outline the process for multi-party usage of the infrastructure by removing existing language in the MDA that might have been a hurdle up to this point.
AML also understands that this Framework Agreement provides for GoL to facilitate discussions between AML and Ivanhoe for excess capacity to be granted to Ivanhoe in accordance with the Implementation Agreement and AML MDA. There is nothing in the AML Amendment that prohibits these discussions. AML has already agreed to utilizing an independent party to assess the existence of excess capacity on the railroad.
The AML Amendment also provides the framework for a multi-user Rail and while AML has the right to complete its ramp-up to 15mtpa, such construction must be completed by December 2024, after which other Users may start their expansion project as early as 2025.
The IMCC’s express position was that there should be no revenue sharing with AML of any transit fees. AML can operate the rail only on a break even basis and will not get any share in revenue from other Users.

18) How long will it take to construct the concentrator once you get started?
The critical path is through engineering, civil and earthworks, structural, mechanical install then electrical. Dry commissioning, Wet commissioning, steady state and then ramp up
– Detailed Engineering is 9 months
– Tendering 3 months
– Construction 18 months
– Commissioning 4-6 months
We will need 24 to 36 months particularly given the risk of the purchased equipment and the structural integrity of the partially constructed foundations and the constraint of the wet seasons. This will deliver not just the concentrator but the materials handling, mine and tailing infrastructure at the required Mining production rates.

19) How much more tax/royalties will be paid to GOL by AML’s new Concentrator? How does this contrast against revenues from transporting Guinean ore via Liberian territory?
The concentrate is valued much higher than DSO and with the increased volumes, royalties to GoL would likely almost triple or quadruple current levels at steady prices. In addition, improved profitability will also provide larger income taxes. AML estimates are that revenues to GOL over the project’s next 30 years will average approximately $85 million annually as royalties, direct and indirect taxes and other contributions. In contrast GoL revenues from transporting 30 mtpa Guinean ore would be approximately $15 million annually.

20) Why is AML controlling the Buchanan to Yekepa rail corridor, thus depriving the people of Liberia from estimated benefits of 20 billion US dollars?
This belief is simply untrue and the $20 billion benefit to Liberia is purely fictional.
The Amended MDA provides further rights to the Government of Liberia on who can utilize the infrastructure corridor. All users of this infrastructure and GoL will become members of a Joint Management Committee and they have the power to recommend the removal of AML as operator if there is a breach of the Rail Operating Principles or if AML discriminates against other users.
In addition, AML has conceded land area in Buchanan for other parties to have their own stockpile areas and construct/operate their own shiploading berths.

Liberia’s current GDP in approx. 2.9 billion US dollars. How a single rail line can generate 20 billion US dollars need to be explained. $20 billon is higher than the combined GDP of Guinea and Liberia. The current Government of Guinea mandate limits iron ore shipments through Liberia to about 25 mtpa, which would provide a transit fee of approximately 20 million US dollars annually (which is one thousand times less). This is in sharp contrast to ArcelorMittal revenues to the Government of Liberia at their 15 mtpa to be approximately 85 million US dollars.
ArcelorMittal Liberia believes in a competitive business environment and the Amendment provides for a clear multi-user arrangement for this rail and port infrastructure, provided it doesn’t negatively impact its existing operations and limited future expansion plans.
Furthermore, AML will provide the rail operatorship at cost with zero profit for other users of the infrastructure. These users will have to pay a tariff only to the Government of Liberia.
21) Why is AML reluctant to having GoL engaging with an independent company who would be the operator for this infrastructure?
AML has already invested $500 million dollars to rehabilitate the rail and port for its current usage and is investing capital in the next two years to expand this capacity to 15 mtpa for its own use with the upcoming concentrator project. Introducing an external entity for operations and maintenance would at best add additional costs impacting the viability of businesses for not just AML but all other users as well. Furthermore, under performance of an independent operator who has no “skin in the game” puts at risk the security of the business by jeopardizing companies’ ability to deliver products to market.
Multi user models where one user operates on behalf of all operators (with a management oversight board with all users represented) is the industry standard and successfully operated around the world. Even in Guinea, the pre-existing operator continues to operate the railroad for the bauxite multi-user railroad.

22) Has ArcelorMittal Liberia fulfilled its social obligations by paying into the County Social Development Funds?.
ArcelorMittal has been fully compliant on its County Social Development payments to the Government of Liberia for the past 16 years. It has also been a strong advocate for the communities and their legislative representatives has been that the $3.0 million in annual funds that AML provides the Central Government rarely trickles down to these affected communities and counties. Last year (in 2020) AML affected a change where only 80% of these funds went the national exchequer and the remaining 20% is being managed by the company for projects identified by the local communities. More recently in October 2021, the Minister of Finance made statements to the County Legislative Caucuses that going forward any funds received from AML will be immediately transferred to the counties in response to the community complaints.

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