Buchanan, June 12, 2014 – ArcelorMittal Liberia has announced the arrival of six new locomotives in preparation for phase two of its operations. The new top-of-the-line General Electric trains landed at Buchanan port from the United States of America on Sunday, June 8, 2014.
After assembly and testing, the new trains will join the fleet of three trains that currently travel on the rail line between Buchanan and Tokadeh Mines in Yekepa, Nimba County, bringing the total fleet to nine trains.
Presently, trains leave both the mine and port every two and a half hours. With the new additions, five trains will leave both the mine and port every two and a half hours, bringing the total to 10 trains per day. Pulling 140 wagons per train, the new locomotives will meet the increased demands of phase two, when ArcelorMittal Liberia plans to ship 15 million tons per year compared with the 5 million tons shipping target for phase one of operations – a target that the company surpassed in 2013 with 5,173,000 tons.
In anticipation of the arrival of the new trains, the company has been training Liberian locomotive drivers, increasing the number of trained Liberian operators from 16 to 34. An additional investment in a state-of-the-art dispatch technology was made to cater to the increase in rail movement and activities.
ArcelorMittal Liberia says it has invested more than US$1 billion so far in its operations in the country, dividing the project into two phases. Phase one is the direct shipping ore phase (DSO), during which the ore is mined and either shipped to
ArcelorMittal’s European steel plants or to the open market in Asia.
Phase two of operations, which will increase the total investment and employment in Liberia, will see the installation of a fixed ship loader – the largest steel structure to ever arrive and be installed in Liberia – at the port in Buchanan, and the building of a concentrator at Tokadeh.
The purpose of the concentrator plant is to improve the Fe (iron) content of the iron ore. Currently, the DSO operation does not require a concentrator because of its high Fe content of 65%. Phase two will involve the mining of a lower grade ore with a Fe content of 45%; the concentrator plant will be used to improve the iron ore grade from the low 45% Fe content to a higher content of 65. Phase two is expected to run between 2015 and 2030 with increased levels of mine productivity each year.