Reports: Three parties entered an iron ore concession agreement in Liberia before the presidential election. Two of them have since denounced the contract as corrupt

In June 2023, ArcelorMittal took over Solway Mining's concession in Liberia. President George Weah's government terminated Solway's licence and transferred Solway's mining rights and assets to ArcelorMittal. Solway Mining agreed to the deal.

The agreement was negotiated behind closed doors. It was signed right before Weah's re-election campaign and, despite involving the concession of Liberia's natural resources, it was kept secret for several months until media reports revealed it in October.

Following media coverage, Solway Minig's parent company accused the Liberian government of unlawful expropriation. Following election loss, outgoing President Weah reportedly accused his government of deceiving him about the Solway deal.

Solway's licence

In October 2019, the Weah-led administration granted an iron ore exploration permit to Solway Mining Group, a Switzerland-based Solway Industries Limited subsidiary. The licence referred to an area totalling 222 hectares covering Mount Detton and Mount Blei in Nimba County, northwestern Liberia.

Steel giant ArcelorMittal has repeatedly called on President Weah and its government to revoke the mineral exploration licence issued to Solway. ArcelorMittal claimed the licence violated its exclusive rights under the 2005 Mineral Development Agreement signed with the Liberian government. The Solway licence, ArcelorMittal said, was within ArcelorMittal Liberia's Concession Area in Nimba County.

Shrouded in secrecy

On 29 June 2023, ArcelorMittal took over the Solway Mining concession. ArcelorMittal and the Liberian Government signed a "Deed of Settlement" that set out the transfer of the Solway mining licence to ArcelorMittal. Solway Mining agreed to the deal.

The Liberian Government kept the agreement secret. Although an official ceremony apparently took place, local media first disclosed the deal on 3 October 2023, three months after its closure. ( Africa Intelligence revealed details from the "private and confidential" agreement on 6 October. (

Solway's threats

In October 2023, soon after details of the agreement became public, Solway Investment Group, the parent company of Liberia-based Solway Mining, wrote to the Government of Liberia contesting the withdrawal of their exploration licence and its transfer to ArcelorMittal.

Solway Investment Group demanded that the Liberian government engage in compensation discussions to avoid potential arbitration. According to Solway, the transaction violates Liberia's Investment Act, which prohibits government nationalization or expropriation of enterprises without appropriate compensation.

Solway admitted its local representative's involvement in transferring its licence and assets but claimed Alford Morgan, the Solway Mining manager, negotiated the deal without informing the parent company.

On 13 November 2013, Solway Investment Group submitted a Notice of Arbitration to the Government of Liberia "in the hope of resolving a dispute between its Liberian subsidiary Solway Mining Incorporated and the Republic of Liberia in relation to SIG's valuable iron ore mining rights in the country." (

Weah's sudden post-election concern

The Weah administration transferred Solway's mining licence to ArcelorMittal right before the launch of George Weah's re-election campaign. No candidate won a majority in the first round of the presidential elections held on 10 October 2023. On 14 November, Opposition leader Joseph Boakai defeated Weah in the runoff.

According to an Africa Intelligence report, George Weah changed his mind about the June 2023 agreement after losing the presidential election. Despite media coverage, Solway's threats, and protests at the mining site in Nimba, Weah remained silent on the issue during his campaign. After losing the elections, he allegedly became very concerned about the manoeuvering of some of his ministers involved with the mining sector. (

George Weah reportedly asked for an investigation into the mining contracts before handing over to Joseph Boakai, starting with the transfer of the iron ore licence from Solway Mining to ArcelorMittal.