ArcelorMittal confirms Liberia iron ore expansion to 15 million tonnes per year with potential to double

ArcelorMittal and the Republic of Liberia have signed an accord that will allow the steelmaker boost its logistics capability and ramp up its iron ore production in the west African country to 15 million tonnes a year, with a possibility for further expansion up to 30 million tonnes per year.

Liberia and ArcelorMittal have signed an amendment to a Mineral Development Agreement involving a boost in premium iron ore production, new jobs generation and wider economic benefits for Liberia, the company said in a statement.

The expansion encompasses processing, rail and port facilities and will be one of the largest mining projects in west Africa, the company said. The capital required to finalize the project, effectively a brownfield expansion, is approximately $0.8 billion.

The project includes construction of a new concentration plant with first concentrate expected in late 2023, ArcelorMittal said. Other users may be allowed to invest for additional rail capacity, it said.

ArcelorMittal Liberia has been operating a 5 million tonnes direct shipping ore export mine since 2011. The company said in February that it had approved the restart of an expansion plan to 15 million tonnes a year of concentrate sinter fines capacity at the site. Construction of the expansion had originally started in 2013 but was suspended due to the Ebola outbreak.

ArcelorMittal Liberia is the largest foreign investor in Liberia, having invested over $1.7 billion in the country over the past 15 years, including operation of a vocational training center. More than 2,000 jobs are expected to be created during the construction phase of the expansion now announced, with Liberians envisaged to fill the majority of the roles created.

“The current planned expansion is part of a long-term commitment by ArcelorMittal to Liberia that includes undertaking planning for the further expansion of our iron ore asset to at least 30 million tonnes per year,” ArcelorMittal executive chairman Lakshmi Mittal was cited as saying in the statement. ArcelorMittal also produces iron ore in Canada, Brazil, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. In 2020 its total iron ore production reached 58 million tonnes, while its crude steel production was 71.5 million tonnes.

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