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Liberia Vice President Jeremiah Kpan Koung Denounces Protest Against AML; Describes Phase II Expansion Project as a Big Investment that will create jobs for Liberians

VP Koung and AML CEO

Nimba County, Liberia: – The Vice President of Liberia Jeremiah Koung has condemned the recent protest by some community and traditional society members in Yekepa which disrupted the operations of ArcelorMittal Liberia (AML) for a week.

ArcelorMittal is Liberia’s largest foreign direct investment, the highest contributor to government’s revenue and the largest private sector employer.

The company is currently undertaking a massive expansion project that encompasses construction of a state-of-the-art iron ore concentrator along with augmentation of the existing rail and port infrastructures to support the production and shipping of 15 million tonnes of concentrate ore per annum.

Owing to the importance of this investment, Vice President Koung took time off his Thank-You Tour of Nimba County to visit Yekepa and to inspect construction works at the iron ore concentrator plant. The plant is the second largest in Africa and is set to be a game changer for Liberia and the region.

During the visit Vice President Koung called on locals who have grievances related to AML’s operations to desist from protest and violence and urged them to channel their complaints through their leaders.

The Liberian Vice President said the frequent protests and disruptions of ArcelorMittal Liberia’s operations do not project a positive image of Nimba County and Liberia and could scare away potential investors, especially at a time when the government is trying to create more economic opportunities for Liberians by attracting more investments.

“What happened here the last time is wrong. They should not, at any time seize the company’s working site to the extent that they prevent the company from working. We told them that there are channels. They can talk to the superintendent. The superintendent will talk to the caucus. The caucus will talk to the legislature, it will come to me, and I’ll take it to the president,” Vice President Koung explained when he met with AML’s Chief Executive Officer Jozephus Coenen at the concentrator construction site at Mount Tokadeh on Friday, May 17, 2024.

The Vice President acknowledged that the CEO of ArcelorMittal Liberia understands well and is willing to listen, stressing that the people of Nimba need to benefit from the resources but should equally be law abiding and shouldn’t take the law into their hands. 

“ArcelorMittal is our biggest partner, and we don’t want it them go anywhere, but our people should equally benefit. When you say the cat should not eat the fish, the fish too must not smell. So, don’t take the law into your hands.”

VP Koung told AML to build mutual relationship with the affected communities, noting that the best security for the company are the locals and not police from Monrovia.  

He assured that he and the CEO of AML will meet periodically to discuss the common good of the company and the people.

The Vice President commended ArcelorMittal Liberia for the USD 1.7bn investment in the construction of a state-of-the-art concentrator and the progress being made on site.

He said the infrastructure will boost Liberia’s economy, create jobs, and attract other investors. 

“I want to say thank you. We appreciate you for this investment. Instead of just moving the Direct Shipment Ore (DSO), you are investing USD 1.7bn on the concentrator. This facility will remain here. This is a big investment that will attract a lot of people here. So, it should also go hand in hand with the development of the local people on the ground and let them get the benefits too. I appreciate it. Thank you. This is a very big job and I believe it will bring a lot of employment opportunities. I will extend the message to the President, and I believe he will also visit here, and he will also see that ArcelorMittal is doing well,” the Liberian Vice President said.

Responding, ArcelorMittal Liberia’s CEO Jozephus Coenen thanked the Vice President for his intervention in resolving the recent protest by community members and assured of AML’s commitment to work with the community to amicably resolve grievances that they may have.

CEO Coenen said AML is improving on its relationship and communication with its communities and stressed that there is no need for demonstration.

“I want to thank you also for your intermediation with the issue that we had last week. It was a good meeting on Sunday with the Minister of Internal Affairs involved as well. During that meeting, we heard some of the issues that the community has like the access roads rehabilitation, and we are doing that as we speak. The communities are happy that we have graders working on the roads. We are learning and we are working very hard to make not only the relationship but the communication with the communities better. So, there’s no need any more for communities, if there is an issue, to raise that by demonstration. They can come and talk to us, we will listen, we will take action together,” CEO Coenen emphasized.

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