ArcelorMittal to invest €700 million in Liberia mining
Steelmaking giant ArcelorMittal is set to invest close to €677 million ($800 million) into expanding its iron mines in Liberia, the Luxembourg-based company has said, for one of the "largest mining projects" in West Africa.
The project encompasses processing, rail and port facilities, the construction of a concentration plant and the expansion of mining operations.
The company expects a first ramp-up of production in late 2023, tripling the yield to 15 million tonnes per year, the company said in a press release on Friday, while still leaving room for further expansion.
The investment comes as ArcelorMittal is having a strong 2021, thanks in part to record prices for iron ore. Last year, its mines from Canada to Kazakhstan and Brazil to Bosnia produced 58 million tonnes of the commodity.
That output would rank ArcelorMittal among the world’s top 10 iron ore producers - according to commodities industry trade publication NS Energy and investment advice web site The Motley Fool - even after the group lost its spot as the world's top steel company for the first time in two decades.
The construction is expected to generate more than 2,000 jobs, with Liberians envisaged to fill the majority of the roles created, the company said. ArcelorMittal Liberia had already invested over $1.7 billion in the country over the past 15 years, the company said.
Liberia was founded in the early 19th century by Afro-Americans - both free and formerly enslaved ones - heading to the West African country. The country went through two brutal civil wars between 1989 and 2003 that killed hundreds of thousands. According to a World Bank brief from this year, more than of of Liberia's population live below the national poverty line meaning that roughly 2.3 million Liberians were unable to meet their basic needs.
"Poverty in Liberia is projected to increase over the next few years, driven by increasing food prices, lower commodity prices for minerals, and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic", the World Bank said.
The mining industry, which experienced a revival after the 2003 civil war, is one of the main economic sectors in the impoverished country, with gold, diamonds, and iron ore being the main assets. Recent elections that took place in the country were deemed largely free and fair by international observers, the US State Department said in a report from 2020.