ArcelorMittal, a Belgian-headquartered multinational steel company, is moving ahead with its Phase 2 Expansion, promising wider social economic benefits to Liberia.
The Phase 2 expansion started in 2022 is focused on expanding ArcelorMittal’s operations with the ongoing construction of an ore concentration plant, investment in port and rail facilities.
In the project, AML has committed to boost output to at least 30m tonnes per annual and will invest about 1.2 billion into the Liberian economy.
Jozephus (Joep) Coenen – Chief Executive Officer of ArcelorMittal Liberia who is responsible for all the integrated mining, rail and port related activities, the operational performance and overall P&L financial performance of the business in Liberia.
Coenen announced late 2022 that Phase 2 expansion has already created 3000 jobs for Liberians.
Since the start of 2023, the company continues to employ dozens of Liberians in low, middle, and senior supervisory roles tied to the expansion.
With Liberia historically challenged with the problem of job creation, Phase Two Expansion stands out to help the government realize its job creation pledge under the pro-poor agenda.
With Phase 2 expansion, the government is expected to raise additional customs revenue from the company’s expanded operations from the onset and in the medium, and long term.
Money raised here could be used to solve mounting social problems in communities affected by the operations of AML and elsewhere.
It could even provide source of income for SMEs because already, several logistics, care and construction companies with Liberian staff are providing services for AML massive expansion.
It is without doubt that ArcelorMittal’s Phase Two Expansion will evidently benefit Liberia, which otherwise receives only small inflows of direct foreign investment (at US$87m in 2020), has limited financial and infrastructural capacity, and faces recurrent local-currency crunches, factors that will continue to weigh on political stability in the near term.
In midSeptember 2021, ArcelorMittal Liberia signed an amendment to its Mineral Development Agreement with the executive branch of the Liberian government.
The deal was on the expansion of its mining and logistics operations, committing to staying in Liberia for at least another 25 years.
The expansion project according to the Economist Intelligence, includes the construction of a new concentration plant and an upgrade of rail and port facilities linked to ArcelorMittal Liberia’s Yekepa iron ore mining operations in north-eastern Liberia.
In this expansion, AML has planned to spend about US$65m during the project’s first phase, which would have span over three years, during which the company in the agreement sought to triple annual ironore output to 15m tonnes, from 5m tonnes.
So, despite the ongoing phase Two expansion, it is also key for the government to act critically and finalize outstanding issues on the original proposed new 25 years deal for the general good of the country.