ArcelorMittal Liberia has for the first time launched, after over 14 years of mining operations in the country, Community Fund Development (CDF) for affected communities in three (3) counties; namely, Bong, Bassa and Nimba Counties.
The development fund was launched on Wednesday, August 19 in the conference room of the Capitol Building annex.
Those in attendance were the Legislative Caucuses of Nimba, Bong and Grand Bassa counties; Internal Minister Varney Sirleaf; Mines and Energy Minister Gesler Murray, as well as the Superintendents of Nimba and Grand Bassa Counties.
The CDF is 20% of the County Social Development Fund (CSDF) and has been earmarked for beneficiary communities in proximity to the company’s operational areas.
The initial support of the CDF is US$840,000, which will be disbursed between August 2020 and July 2021 to people living a in communities of impact within the vicinity of the iron mine, port and along the length of the railroad from ArcelorMittal Liberia’s iron ore mines in Nimba County through Bong County to the port of Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.
Mr. Marcus Wleh, the company’s Head of Government Relations, said ArcelorMittal is required to pay annually US$3 million as social developments in Bong, Bassa and Nimba counties and, in 2020, the Liberian government and ArcelorMittal Liberia agreed that the company shall pay 20% of the CSDF to the affected communities in its operational areas while the remaining 80% be paid to the Government on behalf of the beneficiary counties.
“The Community Development Fund will provide US$840,000 to support development projects in 2020. The projects are divided into six categories: agriculture; education; road and bridges; water, health and hygiene; community cohesion and peacebuilding; and housing,” Mr. Wleh said.
According to Mr. Wleh, the selection of the projects will be done by the District sitting, where up to 20 people from the beneficiary community meet to prioritize and select their projects. The district sittings will be chaired by the District Superintendent and the District Representative in the Legislature.
“There will be a County Approval Committee to approve all projects selected by the District Sittings. The County Superintendent chairs the County Approval Committee, and ArcelorMittal Liberia manages all contracts for goods and services and disburses payments as per stipulations in contracts,” Mr. Wleh indicated.
Separately, Representative Joseph Somwarbi spoke on behalf of Nimba Legislative Caucus; Rep. Albert Hill, on behalf of the Bong Caucus and then Vincent Willie for the Grand Bassa Caucus, expressing their thanks and appreciation to ArcelorMittal Liberia and the Government for not fighting against the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) that called for 20% to be directly disbursed to affected communities in the mining operational areas.
Minister Murray formally launched the CDF, while Minister Sirleaf urged ArcelorMittal Liberia, the Caucuses and the local authorities to live up their respective commitments.