As part of its phase two expansion project, ArcelorMittal Liberia is building a modern high-technology ore concentrator near its mine in Yekepa, Nimba County.
The facility when completed will be producing a high-grade concentrate, which requires approximately 25 million tons annually of raw ore to produce 15 million tons of concentrated product.
The ore concentrator was initially proposed as a tentative development proposal submitted when Mittal Steel initially entered Liberia in 2006.
With a more detailed plan with approvals from the Environmental Protection Agency, the iron ore concentrator plants were relocated near the mines in Yekepa to ensure that the affluent tailings could be managed near the mine site, rather than exposing the sensitive marine eco-system in Buchanan to the potential impact of a mining operation.
This came after feasibility studies that ArcelorMittal Liberia conducted showed that it is technically efficient and cost-effective to locate the concentrator near the source of the iron ore in Nimba County.
Of recent, there has been agitation on various street corners in Buchanan and up Capitol Hill that alleged the “bridge” of its concession agreement for the relocation of the plants.
Youth people in Grand Bassa County have engaged the ArcelorMittal Concession area with ferocity, setting up roadblocks and demanding that the company returns the plant to Bassa.
But while it is understood that these discussions have sprung up in a major election year, we must understand a few things among which is the fact that the ore processing plant will provide employment opportunities for all Liberians with requisite qualifications.
Since it entered Liberia, the company in its drive to improve the communities affected by its operations has made it a responsibility to ensure that a significant portion of employees are from Grand Bassa, Nimba, and Bong Counties.
AML has an open and inclusive work and employment policy that does not discriminate.
Regardless of the economic or financial environment in which the firm operates, it upholds the highest standards of nondiscrimination and integrity in all our actions.
Because according to the company, it cannot live up to its core brand values of Sustainability, Quality, and Leadership – without Integrity and inclusion.
As part of its Phase II expansion, the layout of the revised operation has also relocated all rail maintenance facilities to Buchanan in contrast with LAMCO, which had these in Nimba County.
Additionally, the company says to help compensate for the job balance with Nimba, the company is building an automatic rail unloading facility, stockpile with stackers and reclaimers, and undertaking a major expansion of the Buchanan Port.
A Vocational Training Center (in Buchanan) is also under consideration to help train the large number of technical employees that will be required.
At a recent citizen engagement meeting in Buchanan organized by the Government of Liberia through the Ministries of Internal Affairs, Mines and Energy, the National Bureau of Concession, and local authorities of Grand Bassa, Internal Affairs Minister Varney Sirleaf denounced the use of violence in seeking redress to issues.
The minister urged the people of Grand Bassa to tread on the path of dialogue and peaceful engagement with ArcelorMittal over matters concerning the relocation of the ore concentrator.