Our revitalisation of Liberia's mining industry shows how responsible investment can bring economic and social benefits to developing countries
Our investment in Liberia’s mining and transport infrastructure is helping Liberia to rebuild its economy after years of civil war. Our stakeholder engagement programmes are allowing communities in Brazil to influence the development of their local plant, while our investment in steel production is helping to reverse the fortunes of the city of Temirtau, in Kazakhstan, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Liberia mines again
“Government cannot, by itself, achieve the vision for Liberia that is enshrined in our poverty reduction strategy. We need the participation of the private sector – one that will bring in sustainable investment and promote good corporate citizenship.”
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia
ArcelorMittal’s revitalisation of Liberia’s mining industry shows how responsible and transparent business practices and investment can bring long-term economic and social benefits to an emerging market.
The small nation of Liberia, on the west coast of Africa, was devastated by two civil wars between 1989 and 2003, during which time its economy and infrastructure were destroyed, creating a serious challenge to the post-war government to rebuild the country and create jobs for the unemployed – the vast majority of the working population.
The new Liberian government was keen to ensure that the country’s natural resources were used to provide direct and tangible benefits to Liberians. Attracting responsible foreign investment was deemed vital for urgent reconstruction and long-term development – and it was against this backdrop that ArcelorMittal entered the country.
Prior to the wars, Liberia was a major exporter of iron ore; ArcelorMittal’s investment focused on rebuilding the country’s mining and exporting industry.
In 2005, ArcelorMittal signed a Mineral Development Agreement with the Liberian government in which we committed to strengthening the country’s mining industry and transport system and investing heavily in its social infrastructure, such as schools and health clinics.
The project saw the reopening of abandoned mines in the Nimba mountains at Tokadeh, Gangra and Yuelliton. The 240km of abandoned railway running through Nimba, Bong and Grand Bassa to the port in the coastal town of Buchanan was refurbished, with bridges and service roads rehabilitated. Road networks were also improved, with 150km-200km of new roads built along the railway corridor. In Buchanan, the port was redeveloped to make it suitable for international shipping, which involved strengthening the iron ore quay and dredging the harbour.
Thousands of jobs created
Since 2006, ArcelorMittal Liberia has provided nearly 500 jobs directly, as well as created indirect employment for 2,100 Liberians through foreign and Liberian-owned contractors.
In 2011, the first shipments of iron ore left our mines near Yekepa – the first time ore had been mined in the country for 20 years. From 2012 onwards, the aim is to export 4m tonnes of ore a year.
Social and environmental impacts are far-reaching in a country where other opportunities are scarce. Using international codes of best practice has enabled us to deal with these issues effectively and transparently. The Corporate Responsibility Forum for Liberia, which ArcelorMittal set up in partnership with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) – the German government’s international development body – promotes effective corporate citizenship and good business practice among domestic Liberian companies and other multinationals planning to invest in the country. Our company is also a member of the multi-stakeholders steering group of the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
Joseph Mathews, then CEO of ArcelorMittal Liberia, says: “By leading the creation of the Corporate Responsibility Forum in Liberia, ArcelorMittal, together with other major companies here, has signalled that the private sector is now able to play its part in driving the development agenda. This forum is an opportunity to share best practices and in doing so, strengthen small and medium-sized enterprises and help create an entrepreneurial class.”