Liberia: Nimbaians Reject Extension of ArcelorMittal MDA

...Until certain conditions are met

About 100 aggrieved Nimbaians, most of who were clad in black have stormed the grounds of the Capitol demanding the House of Representatives to reject the amended ArcelorMittal Liberia Mineral Development Agreement (MDA).

The group of Nimbaians, comprising Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), ordinary citizens, and stakeholders from Nimba County, other parts of Liberia, and the Diaspora, agitated in their petition at the Capitol that the AML deal should end in 2034 due to the non-compliance of AML in its current terms and conditions.

Under the umbrella, the Collaborations of Nimba Citizens (CNC) said in their 8-page petition that if the MDA should be extended, action steps of compliance must be upheld. Reading the petition on behalf of the Collaborations of Nimba Citizens, Gabriel Soh, Sr., chairman of the Disabled Community of Nimba (DCN), said the 54th Legislature is being petitioned to reject the proposed amendment to the MDA until certain conditions are met, or until sufficient and legally binding commitments are made by the concessionaire (AML).

According to the petition, the Nimbaians demand “that the Concessionaire immediately begins the renovation and modernization of the iron ore port in Buchanan to increase its harbor handling capacity; and that the Concessionaire begins the expansion/extension of the railroad project from Yekepa to Buchanan port to avoid collision of trains and for present and future access to other economic activities that support the Government of Liberia's economic development policies, among others.”

The petitioners also called for compliance on the social and economic benefits in Nimba County, pursuant in terms of education, development, healthcare, safety, environment, employment, including compliance with the Government of Liberia.

“That the Government of Liberia establish a Mineral Compliance Committee, led by the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI), to ensure that the Concessionaire and other similar operators comply with the provisions of this MDA,” Mr. Soh said, reading the petition.

The aggrieved Nimbaians called on their 9 lawmakers to join them to ‘halt’ the extension of the MDA until their demands are met for the benefit of the next generation. The Protestors said: “In this regard, we conclude by citing a very poignant comment made recently by one member of the House of Representatives (Rep. Cllr. Jonathan Fonati Koffa of Grand Kru County): ‘Politicians think about the next election. Statesmen (and may we add stateswomen) think about the next generation. By this petition, we, your people, are calling on you to act as statesmen and stateswomen, and not mere politicians.”

The petition was received by the House’s chairman on Claims and Petition, Rep. Gorpue Gargon, and Reps. Roger Domah and Larry Younquoi, all from Nimba County.

The House voted that the petition be sent to the Committees on Investment and Concession and Judiciary as well as Ways, Means, Finance & Development Planning, which are already investigating the AML deal.