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ArcelorMittals iron ore mining, Liberia


It was the first of a number of big investments in Liberias iron ore sector, seen as a trendsetter for investors that followed. Under its agreement with the Government of Liberia, negotiated in 2005 (a re-negotiated contract was signed in 2006), the worlds largest steel producer ArcelorMittal obtained a 25-year concession for iron ore extraction. This involved reopening mines in Nimba County (Tokadeh, Gangra and Yuelliton mines), renovation of Buchanan port, rehabilitation of the 270 kilometre railway from Buchanan to Yekepa and construction of a 250-megawatt power plant to supply power. Shipment of iron ore from the Yekepa mine began in 2011. Involuntary resettlement of people from farms in the mine area was one of the impacts identified, but Nimba is also an environmentally sensitive area. The mines are located in close proximity to the Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve and World Heritage Site[2]. Critics say the company has not been sensitive to the socio-economic context of the country. Under its agreement with the Liberian government, ArcelorMittal will pay US$73 million over the 25 year span of the agreement to support socio-economic development in Liberia via the County Social Development Fund (CSDF). This involves the counties of Nimba, Bong and Grand Bassa. Controversy has broken out over the fund. Friends of the Earth/SDI filed a complaint with the OECD, alleging that fund money has been spent on projects that are not benefitting the communities. There have also been complaints about labour practices, with many jobs available through contractors, who offer poor pay and little in the way of benefits.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:ArcelorMittals iron ore mining, Liberia
State or province:Nimba County
Location of conflict:Yekepa
Accuracy of locationLOW (Country level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Specific commodities:Steel
Iron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project details

By 2012, ArcelorMittal aimed to ship four million tonnes of iron ore from Liberia each year. ArcelorMittal plans to increase global iron ore production to 100 million tonnes by 2015. According to Arcelor Mittals Yekepa Mine Area Resettlement Plan report, for 2010-2012 the total number of beneficiaries to pay compensation to for lost assets is 189 farmers. A further 20 towns and villages will receive compensation. The same report said that as of January 2011 the total estimated cost of the resettlement programme for both mines and railroad corridor was US$ 0.91 million[3].

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Project area:180
Level of Investment:900000000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:5000-1000
Start of the conflict:2006
Company names or state enterprises:Arcelor Mittal from Luxembourg
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs, Secretariat of the Liberia Reconstruction and Development Committee , Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia
International and Finance InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Global Action on ArcelorMittal,, Sustainable Development Institute,, Friends of the Earth Liberia,
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Trade unions
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Noise pollution, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Migration/displacement
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Concerns raised over the County Social Development Fund indicate that the money set aside for community development is not going to where it should be going. Moreover, the amount paid to the fund over the 25-year concession period, together with amounts set aside for compensation, seem to be paltry compared to the iron ore extraction taking place.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Environmental Protection and Management Law
[click to view]

World Bank Policy on Involuntary Resettlement

Word - Mineral Policy - Published_1.pdf
[click to view]

Minerals and Mining Law

[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Impact Assessment/Environmental and

Social Management Plan Report. Available at: Accessed 5 February 2013.
[click to view]

[2] ArcelorMittal Liberia Limited (2010). Main Environmental and Social

[1] Friends of the Earth Europe and Liberia (2010). Working for development? ArcelorMittals mining operations in Liberia (2010).
[click to view]

[3] Arcelor Mittal (2011). Liberia: Yekepa Mine Area Resettlement Plan. Available at: Accessed 5 February 2013.
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

IPS (2009). Steel Town Blues For Yekepa. Available at: Accessed 5 February 2013.
[click to view]

Friends of the Earth Europe/Sustainable Development Institute Liberia (2011). Complaint against ArcelorMittal Under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Available at: Accessed 5 February 2013.
[click to view]

Global Action on ArcelorMittal (2009). ArcelorMittal: Going nowhere slowly. A review of the global steel giants environmental and social impacts in 2008-2009. Available at: Accessed 5 February 2013.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

BBC Today (2012). Digging for truth in Liberias mines. Available at: Accessed 5 February 2013.
[click to view]

PBS Newshour (2011). Liberias Oil, Diamond Resources Are Both Blessing and Curse. Available at: Accessed 5 February 2013.
[click to view]


Pictures from ArcelorMittals website:
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Patrick Burnett
Last update08/04/2014
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