Reports filtering into Nimba County suggest that the Liberia – America Mining Company formerly LAMCO is said to be coming back to take possession of Mount Nimba Concession from the world steel giant Arcelor Mittal which is currently in charge of the concession.
According to some residents in Yekapa and some employees presently working with Mittal, the steel company is scaling down operations gradually owing to the news of LAMCO resurfacing to retake their old concession.
Unconfirmed reports said that LAMCO and the Government of Liberia signed a concession agreement for 75 years beginning in the early 60s after the exploration of the mountain followed by mining and subsequent shipment of ore in 1965.
The reports added that based on the concession agreement, there have been a series of meetings among former LAMCO investors in Europe who intend to return to Liberia and retake the concession.
“We are hearing of LAMCO coming back so things are not so good now in Yekapa because Mittal is slowing down some activities,” said one Bigboy, a government security officer.
It is not clear whether the news is true or false, but the movement of trains is said to be slowing down gradually according to citizens living along the railroad.
But, a prominent son of Nimba who is also a former employee of LAMCO and now serves as County Inspector, Thomas Q. Suah, disputed the rumor saying, “I don’t think LAMCO will ever come back because LAMCO sold its share of the company to the Liberian Government for US$ 1 in 1989 and gave the government US$ 8million for any claims.”
He said that upon turning over the concession to the government of Liberia, the company was called LIMCO or Liberia Mining Company.
Suah added that LIMCO operated the company until the 16 year war erupted and everybody fled from the concession area in the early 1990s
Regarding the slowing down of trains, one of the Mittal rail workers who asked not to be named, said the slowdown was due to lack of iron to be transported.
He said production at the mine was slow owing to the breakdown of most of the machines that were operating in the mine.
However, when contacted the Communications Manager of Mittal, Hesta Pearson Baker, described the report as false and misleading.
Some observers believe that the reports emerged because of the company’s failure to rehabilitate the town of Yekapa almost 10 years after they took over.
Mittal and the Government of Liberia reached a Mineral Development Agreement in the year 2005 and the company began shipment of ore in September 2011. But where the news started regarding the old concession company LAMCO coming back is yet to be established.