9 October 2017

Liberia: Nimba Citizens Renew Calls to Review Arcelormittal MDA

Photo: Rukshan Ratnam/UNDP
People stand in line to vote at Liberia's elections (file photo).

With less than a day to the conduct of the 2017 polls, concerned citizens in Yekeya, Nimba County have recommended to the next elected government to review the mineral development agreement (MDA) of ArcelorMittal.

According to citizens, who preferred not to be named, said since the operations of ArcelorMittal there are yet to be any revision carried out by the government and all relevant authorities in charge, something they claimed as worrisome.

According to ArcelorMittal concession agreement plan, the MDA should be reviewed after every five years of operating in the country. ArcelorMittal which has a 25-year concession agreement for mineral development that started on August 17, 2005, was amended on December 28, 2006, and August 17, 2007, for the exploration, production, and marketing of iron ore from the former LAMCO J.V. Operating Company.

The concession is mainly located in Nimba County and it covered portion of Buchanan Grand Bassa counties. According to article XIII of the concession agreement, Liberians benefit when the government signs concession agreements because the companies are supposed to provide jobs, hire Liberians and Liberian owned businesses for the time the company will stay in the country.

But speaking with Internews Women Journalist Fellows (IWJF) in Yekepa over the weekend, citizens informed the IWJF that not much has been done by current management of the company to provide better living condition as people within the concession area still undergo untold suffering coupled with unemployment.

They explained that not everyone within the area are feeling the company's impact except for those residing within Arcelormittal area, a situation the citizens believed can only be addressed through a revision process.

Article V, Section 1 states that "all mining companies in Liberia are supposed to work according to standards set by the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy. The company is supposed to give the development plan to the government through this ministry no later than 45 days after the agreement is signed."

This is not the first time that people are recommending to the government of Liberia to review the mineral development agreement. The political leader of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction and Senator of Nimba County had previously called for the revision of the concession agreement that were signed between the government and Arcelormittal.

Prince Johnson stated that the term for the revision of the company was expired, therefore, the company was operating illegally at the detriment of the people of Nimba County where the concession is mainly located.

Social Impact and Development Plan:

In doing business the company can sometimes cause problems it did not mean to cause. For example, dust or noise can spoil the peace in the community. To avoid problems like this, the company is supposed to act like the government and hold meeting with the people to know their views. The meeting can be in Monrovia, Sanniquellie or Buchanan. The company is supposed to give the government a plan on how it will do this article XIV.

Employee housing:

The company will take over all of the houses that were built by former LAMCO and renovate them to be used for employees. It will also build new houses if it needs more units when the company starts operations. Article X, Section 3a 2, 3xb are clauses the citizens also differed with on grounds that some sub-workers and community dweller themselves are still living in updated structures.

These citizens believed the company had taken advantage of the revision process, allegedly breechin most if not some of the MDA. "It was far better at the time LAMCO was over the concession because both employees and the community people were cared for. Unlike now, the work is hard, more besides, people are not really considering the common people," they bewailed.

The company as part of its agreement is supposed to make sure community programs are put in place to develop the community and young people in the area. Article XIV.

To help the community, the company will give US$8.3 million a portion of this money, US$3 million dollars will be used to pay the salaries LIMINCO owed its employees yearly.

Fiscal/ Royalty/Surface/Rental/Signature Fees:

Surface rental is money the company pays, for using anything on top of the land. The company will pay surface rental fees of US$200,000.00 on January 13 every year and for the first two years. US$300,000,00 for all land in the concession area by January every year. The company is to also pay 4.5 percent of the selling price of each metric ton of iron ore mined when the iron ore is shipped.

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