Minister Nathaniel F. McGill Minister Nathaniel F. McGill

Minister McGill trashes rumors of Exclusive Rights and Ownership of Rail and Port to AML Featured

The Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Nathaniel F. McGill has clarified that the Government of Liberia(GoL) did not and has not given the railway and Port of Buchanan to Arcelor Mittal Liberia (AML) as widely speculated in the media.

Minister McGill said such assumption is false and misleading, describing the deal between GoL and AML as “a good deal” even though he stated “there are some issues that still need to be addressed”.

The Minister of State was responding to a question on the nighttime Spoon Talk Show on Tuesday, December 28, 2021 concerning the US$800 Millon Arcelor Mittal amended Mineral Development Agreement (MDA), which is before the Legislature for ratification.

“There are things that the citizens of Nimba have raised that need to be address and we have approached Mittal and the company is willing to do more,” McGill said.

Improvement in housing is one of the key legitimate issues raised by the people and, according to him, the government has approached the concession to take action in this regard.

He, however, stressed, “What we have not done is that we have not given the railway to Mittal and we have not given any port or the Port of Buchanan to Mittal.”

The minister averred that the port and railway belong to the government and people of Liberia and that the government has not given it out to any concession.

The submission for ratification of the third amended MDA has been characterized by a wave of sustained propaganda and misinformation claiming that in the agreement, the government had agreed to give exclusive right to AML over management and usage of the Port of Buchanan and the railway, which runs from Buchanan to Yekepa, in Nimba County.

In a related development, Minister McGill has stressed the importance of the strong partnership between ArcelorMittal and Liberia.

Addressing issues related to the ratification of the amended Mineral Development Agreement of ArcelorMittal Liberia, when he spoke to Radio Sehnwai in Nimba County earlier Tuesday, December 28, 2021, Minister McGill said GoL needs ArcelorMittal Liberia because the company’s contributions in taxes and royalties are critical to driving national development.

The top government official explained that there are a lot of good things in the new amendment while acknowledging concerns of communities in Nimba, Bong, and Grand Bassa regarding the need for improvements in social services such as healthcare, housing for workers, and creation of more jobs for locals.

“We can't say that the Government will throw ArcelorMittal away. How will we raise revenue? If ArcelorMittal goes and everybody doesn't have jobs and the iron ore remains underground, how will it benefit our people? AML must operate in a way that our people will be happy, and we [Government] have to create the condition so our people will be able to work in harmony with the company.” He accentuated.

He assured that as the ratification of the amended ArcelorMittal Liberia MDA is ongoing, the concerns of the citizens will be addressed, and called on the company to improve conditions is highlighted by the citizens.

On the issue of jobs exclusively for citizens of a particular county, he pointed out that, while it is important that Liberians are given prominent positions in ArcelorMittal Liberia, the company does not only operate in one county, but in Liberia for all Liberians.

Meanwhile, Minister McGill has again dispelled widely spread misinformation that the proposed amendment to the ArcelorMittal Liberia MDA grants exclusive rights and ownership of rail and port infrastructures to the company.

Minister McGill described such information as untrue and deceptive.

“The Government hasn't given the railway to ArcelorMittal. That information is false and misleading. The railway belongs to Government. Government has absolute control,” he further clarified.

On September 10, 2021, the GoL and ArcelorMittal signed an amendment to the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA), which paves the way for the expansion of the company’s mining and logistics operations in the country.

With the MDA amendment coming into effect, the ArcelorMittal Liberia will significantly ramp up production of premium iron ore, generating significant new jobs and wider economic benefits for Liberia.

The expansion project - which encompasses processing, rail, and port facilities - will be one of the largest mining projects in West Africa. The capital required to finalize the project is expected to be approximately $0.8 billion, as it is effectively a brownfield expansion.

The expansion project includes the construction of a new concentration plant and the substantial expansion of mining operations, with the first concentrate expected in late 2023, ramping up to 15 million tonnes per annum (‘mtpa’).

Under the agreement, the company will have a reservation for expansion for at least up to 30mt. Other users may be allowed to invest in additional rail capacity.

Economic benefits as the largest foreign investor in Liberia, ArcelorMittal Liberia has invested over $1.7 billion in the country over the past 15 years. More than 2000 jobs are expected to be created during the construction phase, with Liberians envisaged filling the majority of the roles created.






Read 3390 times Last modified on Wednesday, 05 January 2022 05:11
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