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Nimba Sup Urges Dialogue as ArcelorMittal Strengthens Ties and Reaffirms Commitment to Community Development

Nimba Sup and AML CEO

By: Wremongar Joe II

Wremongarjoe@gmail.com

Yekepa, Nimba County –Superintendent Kou Meapeh Gono is urging the people of Nimba County to pursue dialogue in their disagreements with ArcelorMittal in a bid to attract more investment to the vote-rich northern county.

He believes more businesses including banks and others will move to the county and empower more people when the people of Nimba conduct themselves properly by engaging in fruitful discussions with ArcelorMittal Liberia which is already operating in the county.

Her statements came Thursday, June 27, 2024, as ArcelorMittal Liberia (AML) engaged extended engagement to its host communities through the donation of five motorbikes to district commissioners in its operational areas. The donation took place in Yekepa Town, where the motorbikes were handed over to representatives of the Yarmien, Seyhi, and Zor areas, which host AML’s mining operations.

The donation was part of AML’s ongoing efforts by the government of Liberia to foster a collaborative relationship with the communities in which it operates.

Josephus (Joep) Coenen, the outgoing CEO of AML, attended the ceremony alongside the Nimba Superintendent including other AML officials, and local chiefs and elders.

Marcus Wleh, Head of Sustainability and External Relations at ArcelorMittal, emphasized the symbolic nature of the donation saying: “So, these bikes are symbolic donations. We at ArcelorMittal are not saying that all the transportation requirements of our landowners are motorcycles, no. What we are saying is that we are not even asking—we say let’s begin the process of, you know, looking at some of the problems.”

“This is a token of transportation, so everything that was written in terms of requests to us we will still consider. But this is a token presentation. It is just a means of transportation for the chiefs and elders in the affected communities,” Wleh remarked.

Nimba County Superintendent Kou Meapeh Gono expressed gratitude and optimism during her remarks.

Said Superintendent Gono: “Thank you so much, and we want to welcome you again to Nimba. I want to use this time first of all to say thank you to the government of Liberia for its commitment to seeing a peaceful working relationship with our people. That commitment was illustrated by the presence of the honorable Minister of Internal Affairs, Francis Numalin, who has been making tireless efforts to be here, up the mines, meeting the traditional people in the bushes to ensure that there is calm in this area, that the concession can operate, and that our peace rights can also be met”.

Gono highlighted AML’s history of contributions to the community, stating, “Mittal has been helping. They pay the National Government; they have done other projects to completion, and even now they have a scrap project to give to the county. This time you will scrap for development projects that will be commissioned by us. We will come to you the same way we have come with the bikes and cut the ribbon and say this is what the company gave us. Money doesn’t like noise. Banks are supposed to be here, but when the banks start hearing that bush masters can come outside, they are scared to bring their banks because they don’t want the riot and people entering their banks. More banks and more companies will come here and employ people, but let’s be peaceful and do dialogue when we have issues.”

The ceremony ended with Superintendent Gono officially handing over the motorbikes to Hon. Robert Senneh, the Chief Elder of Nimba County, who expressed his gratitude.

“We are happy and we want the company to do what it can so that we can be working for them,” Chief Senneh said.

The donation by AML follows a recent meeting where local citizens requested motorbikes to facilitate the movement of chiefs and elders. Minister of Internal Affairs Francis Nyumalin had committed to ensuring the bikes would be provided by AML, a promise now fulfilled.

The donation ArcelorMittal Liberia believes is an important step in enhancing mobility for community leaders and shows the company’s dedication to supporting the social infrastructure in its operational regions and reflects AML’s broader commitment to addressing community needs and fostering a collaborative environment for sustainable development.

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Traditional Chiefs and Elders in Nimba Vow to End Citizen Demonstrations Against ArcelorMittal Operations

“We wish to go on record with a vow that as long as ArcelorMittal is ready to work with us, listen to us, and adequately address our concerns, there will be no reoccurrence of citizen-led demonstrations as we realized in the past,” stated the resolution, signed by Lawrence T. Tokpah, Sr., Secretary General, and approved by Chief Robert Senneah, Chairman of the Chiefs and Traditional Elders Council of Nimba.

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