19 May 2017

Liberia: Grupee Says Caucus Unaware of Arcelor Mittal Move to Mt. Gangra

Nimba County Senator Thomas S. Grupee has raised concern over "the abrupt relocation" of Arcelor Mittal from its previous miming site, Mount Tokadeh, to a virgin mining site, Mount Gangra.

Speaking to journalists in Sanniquillie, Senator Grupee alleged that the world steel giant Arcelor Mittal that entered into a Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) with the Government of Liberia in 2005 to mine iron ore in Nimba, recently abandoned the Mount Tokadeh where it has previously been operating and moved to Mount Gangra also in Nimba County without the knowledge of the Nimba Legislative Caucus and citizens.

Outlining his concern about the company's failure to notify citizens and authorities of the county, Senator Grupee said Arcelor Mittal since its relocation early this year is now using a footpath created by ordinary farmers to transport iron ore mined from Mount Gangra to Tokadeh where it is later loaded on trains and transported to the Port of Buchanan for export.

He said this act on the part of the company is dangerous to the well-being of locals in the area as, according to him, the movement of heavy vehicles at high speed may result to accidents that could lead to the loss of lives and property in the area.

Senator Grupee said the Nimba Caucus has written the Liberian Senate to look into Arcelor Mittal's abrupt relocation, failure to live up to its promise to the Nimba people to pave a stretch of road from Ganta to Yekepa and the failure of the company to adequately fulfill its social obligation to Nimba as enshrined in the MDA.

It can be recalled that early this year, the management of Arcelor Mittal through its Communications Director, Mrs. Hester Baker Pearson, in a press conference with community radio journalists announced the relocation of the company's mining activities to Gangra in search of high grade ore that is referred to as Direct Shipped Ore that is more needed on the world market.

A statement issued at the end of the conference said the company obtained license to operate Gangra as far back as 2005 when the MDA was signed between it and the Liberian Government.

It said the company reserved mountain to start operations there at the latter part of the project's life span, but was however later seen the favorite for operation now due to the suspension of phase 2 of the company's operation due to the Ebola outbreak in 2014.

She also said the relocation was prompted by the drastic drop in the price of iron ore that threatened the competitiveness, viability and sustainability of its Liberia operation.

"We are now working with consultants on the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) to gain approval for key permits," the statement noted.

It added: "In addition, the community liaison unit has begun work to establish the correct and fair compensation where land use is required by ArcelorMittal."

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