LA PAZ – Chinese companies Sinosteel and Henan are to separately unveil their plans for developing the El Mutun iron-ore mine, Bolivia’s largest.
Bolivian Mining Minister Cesar Navarro said the two companies would present their proposals Monday to state-owned mining company Empresa Siderurgica Mutun’s technicians and board of directors, the official news agency ABI said Sunday.
It will be their final opportunity to make an impression before the government awards the project, which is aimed at meeting 60 percent of domestic steel demand.
Sinosteel initially offered to invest $450.6 million, while Henan’s initial proposal amounted to $419 million, according to Mining Ministry figures released several days ago.
The two companies are competing for a project that includes construction of a steel complex to process the output from El Mutun, as well as additional infrastructure and the training of Bolivian personnel.
ESM is seeking a new partner after India’s Jindal Steel & Power pulled out of its contract to develop El Mutun three years ago.
Jindal abandoned the project in 2012 amid a legal squabble with President Evo Morales’ government, which accused the company of contractual non-compliance.
Jindal won a $22.5 million arbitration judgment against Bolivia last year before the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce, which accepted the Indian company’s argument that, among other things, it never received access to lands where the project was to be developed.
The ICC ordered ESM to return a performance bond it had collected after accusing Jindal of failing to make sufficient investments in the project.
El Mutun, which is primarily located in the eastern Bolivian province of Santa Cruz but extends across the border into Brazil, contains some 40 billion tons of different minerals, mainly iron ore.