LA PAZ – Bolivia said it has pre-selected five foreign companies as potential partners in developing 50 percent of the giant El Mutun iron-ore deposit, located near the border with Brazil.
Sergio Alandia – president of Empresa Siderurgica del Mutun, the state-run firm overseeing the El Mutun project – said Italy’s Danieli, Japan’s Kobe Steel, South Korea’s Hyundai and Cosco and China’s GMV C&C are interested in the project, adding that executives from those firms will meet in the next few weeks with Bolivian government representatives.
“We’re carrying out a sort of pre-selection. There are a lot of people interested. It’s an honor for us and a privilege for Bolivia,” Alandia told local media.
“Bolivia is now privileged to choose among (some of the) world’s biggest companies as suppliers of equipment, technology and financing,” he said.
Alandia added that work is being carried out along two lines: one geared toward exporting iron ore and another on the development of a steel plant with a view to attaining full “industrialization” of the reserves.
The first firm to meet with Mining Ministry representatives will be Danieli, whose executives are due to arrive in La Paz on July 14 to submit a modified version of their initial proposal for investing in Bolivia.
Alandia said the interested companies are vying to join a consortium that would have a 40 percent stake in the project to exploit the half of El Mutun’s reserves in the hands of the government. The other 60 percent stake in the project is to be held by Bolivia.
Rights to exploit the other half of El Mutun’s reserves were awarded to India’s Jindal Steel & Power in 2007, but investment delays have sparked conflict with President Evo Morales’ socialist government.
According to official estimates, El Mutun contains 40 billion tons of reserves of different minerals, mainly iron ore, which the government plans to use to produce steel. EFE