LA PAZ – Bolivian President Evo Morales on Friday signed a law ceding land that India’s Jindal Steel & Power needs to develop the massive El Mutun mine, the second-largest iron-ore deposit in South America and the seventh-biggest worldwide.
Morales signed the measure in the eastern city of Santa Cruz alongside executives from the Indian company, whose investments in El Mutun have been on hold since it signed a contract in 2007 to mine roughly half of the deposit.
The president said the company, which signed a joint venture agreement with the Bolivian government, now “has no reason” for not investing in the project.
El Mutun is a mountain located in the eastern province of Santa Cruz, near the border with Brazil, that contains an estimated 40 billion tons of reserves of different minerals, mainly iron ore.
Saying it lacked the land needed for its operations, Jindal as of early this year had only spent $12 million of the $600 million it had promised to invest in the project over three years.
The Mining Ministry fined the company $18 million in April over the investment delays.
Morales said that in the future companies that do not fulfill the terms of their contracts and investment plans will forfeit their performance bonds, as occurred with the Indian company.
The government also is in talks with other foreign companies on the other half of El Mutun, which has not yet been awarded in concession.
Among the companies that have been pre-selected to bid on the project are Italy’s Danieli, Japan’s Kobe Steel, Korea’s Hyundai and Cosco and China’s GMV C&C. EFE