President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Tuesday told investors and dignitaries at the official ceremony marking the first shipment of iron ore from the country in 20 years that the country is back.
On Tuesday, the world’s largest steel maker shipped its first ore out of the country nearly six years after it signed a mineral development agreement with the government.
“The shipment is a boost to the Liberian economy, especially in the area of employment,” president Sirleaf said Tuesday.
The president thanked the company for keeping its commitment to ensuring a mutual partnership between the two and for the confidence it expressed in Liberia’s feature.
The Mittal Steel, the first company to lead the way for many investors here, was among several contracts which the current government vowed to renegotiate during the 2005 campaign.
And truly, months following inauguration of the Unity Party led government; the contract was renegotiated with added benefits for the country.
Amongst the benefits is the social development fund which is presently being pay to three counties; namely Grand Bassa, Nimba and Bong. However, shipment which represents the launch of commercial mining operations here also represents an important milestone in the recovery of country’s economy.
“Liberia has been through some very difficult times in its history, but today it is back on a track of recovery and growth. And I believe today’s event not only celebrates the start up once again of mining in the country, but is also symbolic of the considerable progress that has been made under President Sirleaf’s Presidency,” Mr. Mittal said.
“There has been a lot of progress,” he said. “During the past five years Liberia has attracted US16 billion of foreign investment. The country’s ranking in the world during business survey has advanced significantly,” he added.
With about 5,500Liberians benefiting directly or indirectly through employment created by the Mittal Steel during the construction phase, the company plans to inject US1.5 billion in the economy.
Arcelor Mittal Chairman and CEO Lakshmi Mittal, also recognized the huge unemployment in the country saying that the company has spent $800 million to repair roads and other infrastructure, it said. A hospital, a school, a railway and refurbishment of the port are among the projects.