President Weah Announces New Negotiations In ArcelorMittal Deal
Monrovia – President George Manneh Weah has agreed with the House of Representatives to renegotiate Amendment No. 3 to the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) between the Government of Liberia on the one hand and ArcelorMittal Liberia Holdings Limited and ArcelorMittal Holdings A.G. on the other hand.
The Agreement was sent to the 54th Legislature for ratification in November 2021, but after both Houses failed to come to one understanding, the House rejected the entire agreement, and in March this year, sent it back to the Executive, recommending its renegotiation.
In a communication to the House of Representatives dated May 16, 2022, a copy in possession of Knews, President Weah expressed appreciation to each member of the House for the diligence they showed in exhaustively reviewing the terms of the proposed Amendment.
The President said while he continues to believe that the expansion of the Arcelor Mittal’s operations by the addition of a concentrator and the increase of production to some 15 million tons of iron ore is in the interest of the country and its people, he has taken note of the concerns raised by the lawmakers that led them to decline in signing the agreement.
The president announced that he has instructed members of the Inter-Ministerial Concession Committee (IMMC) established by law for such purpose, to review and analyze the points raised by the House in its letter to him; as a way of agreeing with the lawmakers.
“Therefore, I shall authorize the IMCC to hold discussions with Arcelor Mittal for the resubmission of an amendment that fairly satisfies the needs of that company while also upholding the national interests of Liberia,” he stated.
Back in September 2021, the Government of Liberia through the Executive and AML signed the third amendment to the existing MDA; with both parties trumpeting it as a win-win situation. The Amendment, expected to be one of the largest in West Africa, would have paved the way for the expansion of the company’s mining and logistics operations in Liberia and allow ArcelorMittal to significantly ramp up production of premium iron ore; generating a significant number of new jobs and wider economic benefits for Liberia – in the tune of US$800 million.
The President then forwarded the draft Amendment to the Legislative for ratification, but following a thorough scrutiny, the House made several changes.
Key contentious issues found within the agreement was the clauses that grant the company exclusive rights to the Yekepa to Buchanan railroad and Port of Buchanan, as captured in article 3, section 3(f) of AML’s third amendment to the MDA.
The lawmaker cancelled them out and called for multi-users right and place the running of the rail and port in the hands of the Government of Liberia.
President Weah backed the House’s decision and said his government remains fully committed to a fair multi-user access to, and use of the railroad corridor from Yekepa to the port of Buchanan, both by other Liberian enterprises and those from the sister Republic of Guinea.
The President noted that such access will be beneficial to both nations and enhance the goals and purposes of the Economic Community of West African States and the Mano River Union to both of which Liberia is a member, as well as Guinea.