Mining activities inevitably impact on land. For some mines, they also affect the people living and working on the land – and Liberia is one such place. ArcelorMittal is committed to providing new opportunities for individuals and families impacted by our mining activities.
We see this as much more than financial compensation; supporting communities is a fundamental part of our human rights policy and our approach to responsible mining. We work with people who have lost their land – partnering with NGOs on the ground to empower them with new skills and livelihoods. This is the story of how we’re working in communities in Liberia to support development and a sustainable way of life for everyone.
Investing in people’s futures
We approach the resettlement and compensation of people affected by our mining in two main ways: through direct financial compensation and through training and other livelihood restoration activities run by local partners. Since late 2016, we’ve worked in consultation with the government to distribute more than $2m to people in four mine-impacted communities in Nimba and Bong counties. This money goes directly to households to compensate for assets and farm crops affected by our mining operations. We’ve also invested more than $1.5m in projects such as skills training programmes, agricultural land replacement and support, tuition fees, small business development, and delivery of food and other items to affected families.
Up to January 2018, there are four projects running in the area, with 75% of the people affected by our mining activities participating.
- Land and agriculture support – we’re working with around 300 people and families to prepare land for farming and set up new farming activity through providing seeds, tools and other training. This is a two-year project run by one of our NGO partners, VOSIEDA (Volunteers to Support International Efforts in Developing Africa).
- Livelihood support to vulnerable households – as well as providing food and household items directly to vulnerable families, we’re helping households to become independent by putting young people through education and training and then supporting them in developing new businesses.
- Skills development – over the past two years, we’ve been retraining around a hundred ex-diamond workers in skills such as carpentry, mechanics, welding and masonry. In January 2018, 77 people graduated and received materials and contacts to help them start working in their new fields.
- Education enhancement – we’re helping 134 people to complete formal secondary and tertiary education by giving tuition, food and housing allowances, medical services, uniforms and study materials. This programme is being delivered by local partner SEARCH (Special Emergency Activity to Restore Children’s Hope).
Partnering for progress
The success of activities like these rests on our partnerships with the organisations that deliver them in the communities. The Mine Resettlement Coordination Committee (MRCC) includes seven local government ministries and community representatives who look after a host of activities to keep projects running smoothly – including community surveys and interviews, agreeing and executing payments, handling grievance procedures, and so on. We also work closely with a local farmers’ association and the Gba Community Forest Management Body (CFMB). These groups play a crucial role in ensuring our policies and activities are fair and identify the right people to support. They’re also able to communicate with people and help smooth things over if there’s conflict.
One of the challenges we face is in getting contracts approved and funding ready so that compensation can be paid promptly and livelihood projects can start on time, which is essential for agricultural activities. Although we’re working hard to improve this, we’re not quite there yet. One real accomplishment for us over the past few years has been developing and improving our grievance process. Today, people know that if they have a complaint, a team of project coordinators will visit them, work together to make a fair and objective decision, and keep them informed throughout. We believe community members are making good use of the system we have in place.
We’ve found that being open, accountable and communicative is crucial for earning the trust of the communities in which we work. Not only does this help us to fulfil our sustainable development goal to be an active and welcomed member of the community, but it ensures our activities in places like Liberia have a positive effect over the long term. We regularly monitor our impact and refine our activities to make sure this remains the case.
“The AML resettlement package is an appropriate and timely response to the social and economic change created as a result of mineral exploration. AML has relocated families from Gba to arable farmland as part of their livelihood restoration programme. My recommendation is that AML should also train and support people in good cash management.” Mr Lawrence Tokpah, Civil Society Organization representative on MRCC