LA PAZ – Chinese state-owned steelmaker Sinosteel Equipment has been awarded a contract for processing the output from El Mutun, Bolivia’s largest iron-ore mine, officials said.
The project to be developed includes construction of a steel complex at the mine in the eastern province of Santa Cruz, additional infrastructure and the professional training of Bolivian personnel.
The decision was adopted “unanimously” Tuesday by the board of state-run mining company Empresa Siderurgica Mutun, or ESM, Mining and Metallurgy Minister Cesar Navarro said in the eastern city of Santa Cruz.
Sinosteel was chosen “due to its experience” and financial backing, Navarro was quoted as saying by state-run news agency ABI.
Chinese privately owned steelmaker Henan Complant was the other company in the running for the El Mutun contract.
Most of the investment cost for the project will be covered by a Chinese loan, the Bolivian government said.
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.
ESM sought a new partner after India’s Jindal Steel & Power pulled out of its contract to develop El Mutun four years ago 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 in 2014 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.