ArcelorMittal Liberia (AML), one of the largest mining companies operating in the country, is facing increasing backlash and citizen dissatisfaction over an alleged violation of its Mineral Development Agreement (MDA). The controversy stems from the construction of AML’s first washing plant in Nimba County, rather than the originally designated Grand Bassa County. As tensions rise, the House of Representatives has taken action, voting to investigate the complaint lodged by Grand Bassa County District #5 Representative Thomas Goshua.
During its 6th day sitting of the 2nd quarter, the House’s Plenary unanimously agreed to task the Committee on Mines, Energy, and Concessions with probing the alleged violation committed by AML and delivering a report within one week. The motion for investigation was initiated by Margibi County District #2 Representative, with an amendment from Bong County District #2 Representative James Kolleh. This decision reflects the growing concern among lawmakers regarding AML’s actions.
Representative Goshua’s complaint accuses AML’s management of unilaterally deciding to construct the concentrator in Nimba County, without seeking approval from the legislature or even informing the Grand Bassa Legislative Caucus. Goshua urges the Plenary to hold AML’s management, the Ministry of Mines & Energy, and the National Bureau of Concessions accountable for their breach of the Mineral Development Agreement.
The dissatisfaction with ArcelorMittal’s actions is not limited to the halls of the House of Representatives. Aggrieved citizens from Grand Bassa County, under the banner of the Bassa Rescue Movement, have taken to the streets to express their anger. For the past week, protests have erupted at ArcelorMittal’s concession area, marked by the burning of tires and the erection of roadblocks on the rail. These citizens demand an explanation from AML’s management as to why the washing plant was transferred to Nimba County, directly violating the terms outlined in the Mineral Development Agreement, specifically in relation to the company’s Social Corporate Responsibility.
The protests signify the growing discontent among the local population, who feel neglected and disregarded by ArcelorMittal’s decision to prioritize Nimba County over Grand Bassa County. The mining company, which has been a significant player in Liberia’s economy, is now confronted with mounting pressure from both citizens and lawmakers. As the investigation unfolds, all eyes will be on the outcome, as it has the potential to reshape the dynamics between mining corporations and the communities they operate in, emphasizing the need for adherence to contractual agreements and the fair distribution of benefits.