Iron ore, an essential global natural resource is the source of primary iron for the world’s iron and steel industries used to maintain strong industrial base.
Numerous iron ore occurrences and deposits are known in Liberia with most being BIF type of the eight major deposits, with six located within the Liberian age Archean basement in central and western Liberia while one is found in the Eburnean terrane in the east and another in the Pan African coastal belt.
Historically Liberia was a major global producer of iron ore, being the 7th largest in the world in 1980, but production levels declined until 1992 when the intensity of the civil war led to the closure of operations on the Nimba deposit at Yekepa.
After the end of hostilities and the establishment of a democratically elected government in 2006 there was revival of commercial interest in Liberia’s iron ore resources.
China Union Investment came in along with Bong Mines Company Ltd. (commonly known as China Union) and ArcelorMittal, the first companies to start production.
Production of ‘direct shipping ore’ (DSO) commenced in 2011 from the first of three deposits at Yekepa (Mount Tokadeh, Mount Gangra and Mount Yuelliton) in the ‘Western Range Project’ (WRP) operated by ArcelorMittal, the only viable mining concession in Liberia to date.
On the holiday of November 29, 2022, President George Weah announced the appointment of new presidential committee to resolve all issues around the proposed 3rd Mineral Development Agreement with ArcelorMittal Liberia.
Given the fact the ArcelorMittal remains the only concession to stay put in Liberia over the last fifteen years, repeated delay to act on the company’s MDA of September 2021 has shocked many.
And it is now expected that the President and his officials will act in good faith, resolve the outstanding issues, and pass the agreement into law.
This is because, Liberians are aware of the two times more economic dividends that deal could supply if the government agrees to extend AML’s mining operations by another 25 years.
As the only viable mining concession with consistent record of contribution to Liberia’s socio-economic development for over fifteen years now, AML’s phase two expansion will deliver two times what it is offering now in social develop funds, in taxes, royalties and community development.
For example, the port of Buchanan, capacity will be enhanced to handle complex logistics far beyond its current rich.
It is this kind of development resulting from the Phase Two Expansion that will increase jobs at the seaport and bring increase in government revenue.
When approved in total, the expansion will see additional revenue to terms of royalties, taxes, and social development funds to Grand Bassa, Nimba and Bong counties.
These kinds of funding stand out to help solve urgent development challenges confronting people across the country.
Let not forget how this AML expansion has the potential to double or surpass its current employment potential with the expansion seeking to evoke massive iron ore processing operations, and the expansion of the Yekepa – Buchanan railway.
With the construction of a new ore concentrator plant and a significant expansion of the company’s mining operations, ArcelorMittal, which has invested more than $1.7bn in Liberia over the last 15 years will generate more than 3,000 direct jobs during the construction phase of the project alone and more than 2000 indirect jobs in the phase two expansion.
With this this phase two expansion, the company will multiply the number of trainings it is offering Liberians in relation to local and international scholarships.
ArcelorMittal will strengthen its Yekepa vocational training center to even a more important hub for the acquisition of technical, professional skills that can be demanded by the mining industry.
These are the elements that position the AML Phase two Expansion as key for unlocking doors for economic prosperity across Liberia.
This is the reason for which many people across Liberia have realized that the company must be permitted and genuinely supported to expand operations in Liberia.