A Chinese company TIDFORE (Hong Kong) Investment (LICEMCO) has signed a US200 million investment agreement with the Government of Liberia for the establishment of a steel plant here. The plant will transform raw iron ore and lamp stone into steel and cement.
The signing comes just days after the House of Representatives passed a bill that will compare all companies investing in the country’s raw materials-iron ore, timber and rubber to establish plants here that would add values to those raw materials.
Commenting after witnessing the signing ceremony on Friday June 23, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf described the deal as a realistic break from the past.
Mrs. Sirleaf said previous deals entered into, namely Firestone and a number of Iron Ore mining companies that started investing in the country in 1920s and 1950s have not been able to add value to raw materials here.
An Executive Mansion release said, the 200-Million investment will ensure the utilization of iron ore for steel production for both national and international market; provide jobs for over 1000 persons; improve revenue collection, reduce the cost of both steel products and cement as well as improve infrastructural development. The agreement also seeks to ensure that all unskilled jobs will be done by Liberians only in addition to a high number that will be required for skilled and professional jobs.
It said TIDFORE will also provide and maintain modern public facilities within the project area in accordance with best practice, general acceptable procedures and environmental law.
Mrs. Sirleaf applauded members of the Inter-Ministerial Concession Committee, led by the National Investment Commission stringent 240-Day negotiations processes with TIDFORE GROUP, the first ever concession to add more values to Iron Ore prior to the agreement.
She however noted similarly, that the TIDFORE Group’s negotiation with the Government of Liberia will have a far-reaching impact on the production of steel, cement and manufacturing.
President Sirleaf informed the executives of TIDFORE that while on her recent tour to Bong County, some aggrieved citizens of the county in the China Union Concession area complained about a number of unfulfilled commitments by China Union which should be look into by TIDFORE for redress.
Earlier, National Investment Commission Acting Executive Director, George Wisner, termed the signing of the agreement with TIDFORE as the beginning of an Investment Incentive Contract with TIDFORE intended to support the Government’s efforts to deal with the structural defects of the Liberian economy and ensure a paradigm shift from an extractive based economy to a more diversified one through value addition
He reiterated that the role of the National Investment Commission is to support government’s economic policies in three key areas, including “Investment Promotion, Investment Facilitation and Private Sector Development in Liberia.
A representative of TIDFORE Group for his part commended officials of the Liberian Government who make up the Inter-Ministerial Concession Committee for their 240-Day hard work that led to the agreement and the signing ceremony.
Also speaking, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yue expressed delight over the signing of the agreement with TIDFORE Group and cautioned both parties not to jump to early celebrations over the agreement.
“I believe that the celebration should start when the project is in motion and not simply the signing ceremony. This agreement falls in two categories. Firstly, it is intended to facilitate the construction and operation of a 200 million Steel and Cement Plant that would transform one of Liberia’s major primary export commodities (Iron ore) into finished product for both domestic and international markets”, he concluded.