MONROVIA – Scores of women of Nimba County, under the banner “Daughters of the Mountain”, have petitioned the Nimba County Legislative Caucus, requesting that the recently signed iron ore deal between the Government of Liberia and steel giant ArcelorMittal, not be rectified until the company fully adheres to the terms of the previous agreement and completely implement provisions therein.
The GoL and ArcelorMittal on 10 September, amended the company’s 2005 Mineral Development Agreement (MDA), with the Government among others announcing that it had secured US$800 million expansion project to build a mine concentrate, expand capacity of the rail and port from the current production of 5 MTPA to 15MTPA within 3 years and a reservation to increase production to 30MTPA over the long term.
The GoL also disclosed at the time by amending the deal with the company, it had also secured a total of US$65 million payment from ArcelorMittal which it said includes US$$55million reservation fee for further expansion rights for the project to 30MTPA and $10 million signing bonus.
But “Daughters of the Mountain”, speaking through Madam Gaziawon Nellay Dano on last Wednesday, called on Nimba lawmakers not to rectify the amended agreement until ArcelorMittal complies with terms of its previously signed agreement.
Madam Dano stated that in areas of its operation, ArcelorMittal, as per its previous agreement, is also required to establish and maintain medical and education facilities to serve employees, their family members and the community, as well as to prioritize the employment and development of Liberians.
The latest petition from the Nimba women is the second from the county since government through its Executive Branch amended the 2005 iron ore deal for ArcelorMittal’s contract to be extended by additional by 25 years; the first being a group of citizens of Nimba drawn from all spectrum of the hugely populated county, when they recently petitioned the Nimba Legislative Caucus not to ratify the MDA.
“We vehemently oppose to any expansion of the MDA with AML, until AML can demonstrate and prove its compliance with the current terms and condition of the existing MDA which has a term running up to 2034,” the Nimba women said in their petition.
The Nimba women are among many things demanding that ArcelorMittal provides an audited environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) report on its operations since 2011 and produce safety and environmental compliance regulations that meet international standards to protect women and children in the concession.
The “Daughters of the Mountain” say they also want ArcelorMittal to ensure gender balance in its labor force and incorporate women into technical and vocational fields for economic productivity.
‘’We want the Company to ensure gender balance in its labor force and incorporate women into technical and vocational field for economic productivity,‘’ the Nimba women maintained.
The women stressed that in the interest of what they called inter-generational equity, they are opposed to any grant of mineral extraction from Nimba, above the current limit of five million tons per annum especially taking into account the best interest of women and girls of the county.
In their petition, the Nimba women emphasized that the recently amended MDA must demonstrate that it contributes to the welfare and wellbeing of this current generation without compromising the potential of future generations for a better quality of life.
The women are insisting that what they described as the broad range of practical challenges including health, education, socioeconomics, being faced by women and girls in affected communities and in Nimba are taken into consideration.
The women want Arcelor Mittal Liberia produce safety and environmental condition compliance regulation that meet International standard to protect women, girls and children in the company’s concession area.
The “Daughters of the Mountain” is calling on government to enforce the integration of local content within the operational areas of ArcelorMittal as required by Article 11 of the MDA, and that the GoL ensures that the company complies with the current MDA, and all applicable laws.
Meanwhile, members of the Nimba County Legislative Caucus are studying the women’s, and that they have recently visited ArcelorMittal’s operational area in Nimba on an assessment tour, Women Voices have gathered.