MITTAL ON THE MOVE
As Mittal gets set to export first Iron Ore in 2011, Opportunities for Investment and Job Creation in Yekepa and Buchanan increase
When the Government of Liberia signed the billion concession agreement with ArcelorMittal, many Liberians were wondering what would be the economic benefit to the Liberian people and economy.
Even though the signed agreement required Mittal, for the first time in Liberian economic history, to provide “social development funds” to the three counties (Nimba, Bong and Bassa) affected by the extraction, Liberians still continue to ask for the direct benefits. As promised, Mittal provides US$3 million to these three (3) counties so that they can undertake local economic development projects based on their unique needs.
While Mittal’s investment is capital intensive and will a specified amount of direct employment, the potential for indirect jobs remains limitless. Actual mining activities and export of ores are expected to take an up swing in the coming months. As planned, Mittal is set to begin the first shipment of ore from the port of Buchanan by third quarter of 2011.
With this exportation comes several jobs and activities around which local investors can organize businesses and create more jobs.
In addition to these social development benefits, Liberia stands to reap more benefits that will enhance economic growth. It is important to note that economic growth depends on productivity and investment. It requires that existing resources be used more efficiently and that investment be made in new areas. Success in this process generates increased incomes which then fuel demand and encourage further economic growth.
When ArcelorMittal entered the scene in Liberia, the company made it clear that it believes that development of the iron ore sector can drive Liberia’s economic growth forward. Today, that belief and commitment continue to drive the company’s quest to contribute to Liberia’s economic growth.
ArcelorMittal remains committed to making the first ore shipment in the third quarter of 2011. The shipment timing is aligned with the company’s Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) deadlines as it continues to make significant construction and development work, especially the reconstruction of the major rail belt from Yekepa to the port of Buchanan.
In the past few years, the multi-million dollar mining company has made significant progress on the development of the Liberia mining project and related infrastructure improvements. The first phase of the railroad rehabilitation work has been completed and can already be used, although not yet at design speed and load.
As part of the company’s support to economic development in Liberia and the region, ArcelorMittal is actively working on a Public Private Partnership with West African Power Poll (WAPP), World Bank and the Government of Liberia to develop a transmission line that would connect Monrovia to Cote d'Ivoire via Buchanan and Yekepa where its operations are located.
The company is also prepared and is implementing a Resettlement and Relocation Plan for communities along the railway and service roads. The Plan includes building market halls to relocate markets on the rail line, installing wells and pumps to minimize people crossing the railway as well as a street theater program on road and rail safety.
Main access roads and bridges along rail have been upgraded. These roads connect the company’s port operations in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County to the mines in Yekepa, Nimba County. “Economic growth is important if businesses are to grow and prosper and ArcelorMittal fits in well,” said Patrick Sawyer, County Development Officer of Grand Bassa County.
Over time, real economic growth leads to major improvements in living standards, expanding existing markets and opening new ones. Residents along the growth corridors especially in Nimba and Grand Bassa Counties are excited and optimistic that ArcelorMittal operations in their areas will create more job opportunities for them.
“Every morning I wake up and see this brand new rail passing through my town,” Steven Vah of Bunadin, Nimba County told LRDC News during a visit to the area recently. He believes when a business enterprise like ArcelorMittal started operations in Liberia, it set objectives and strategy for the future in which economic growth is a vital factor to consider. Steve looks forward to more job opportunities for his people when the company launches full scale operations.