Steel giant ArcelorMittal to sign Liberia conservation dealsBy TERRENCE SESAY | Wednesday, August 1 2012 at 15:39
ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel and mining company, is expected to sign several agreements with conservation bodies in Liberia to ensure the sustainable management and protection of the country’s forest ecosystems.
The agreement to be signed this week, according to a press statement, is a three-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority (FDA), focusing specifically on the East Nimba Nature Reserve (ENNR) – established as Liberia’s second protected area by an Act of National Legislature in October 2003.
The reserve falls within the Mount Nimba range, parts of which (in Guinea and Cote d'Ivoire) are recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site due to the large number of unique and threatened species it contains including the Nimba otter shrew.
The area also provides essential ecosystem services to local people, including watershed protection, yet faces pressure from activities including unlicensed mining and the bush meat trade.
As a business with established mining operations near the Mount Nimba range, ArcelorMittal said it accepts corporate responsibility to help ensure sustainable management of this fragile area.
Under the terms of this latest MoU, the company will work in partnership with the FDA to identify and address key forestry management and biodiversity conservation issues in the reserve.
“ArcelorMittal is committed to sustainability – wherever we operate, we carry out detailed studies designed to mitigate our environmental impact as a business,” Rajesh Goel, CEO, ArcelorMittal Liberia said.
“By signing this MoU with the FDA, we are demonstrating that our commitment to sustainability is not restricted to our immediate operations but that we are willing to go the extra mile, partnering with Liberia’s government to help preserve some of its most precious natural environments,” he said.
ArcelorMittal’s initial interest in Liberia was clearly driven by our country’s rich iron ore deposits,” comments Moses Wogbeh, Managing Director, FDA.
“However, the signing of this and other recent agreements provides reassuring proof that the company is also willing to ‘walk the talk’ by recognising its environmental impacts and committing to providing resources to help protect our most vulnerable natural environments.
The company signed a similar contract in late June with the Gba Community Forest Management Body, covering another of the country’s most fragile ecosystems in the forests of West Nimba.
It also signed a third MoU on 14 July with the Zor Community Forest Management Body and discussions are underway for the signing of a potential fourth agreement with the Blei Joint Community Forestry Management team.
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