LA PAZ – India’s Jindal Steel & Power plans this year to export 1 million tons of iron ore concentrate from Bolivia’s El Mutun mine, the firm said.
Exports will begin in March now that some problems that had slowed development of the mine near Puerto Suarez – a town close to the Brazilian border – have been overcome, Jindal Bolivia’s communications manager, Eduardo Prudencio, told Efe.
“Exports will begin in March. They’ll be the first iron-ore exports from Bolivia. One million tons will be exported during the year,” Prudencio said.
The information was confirmed by Jindal’s managing director, Naveen Jindal, who arrived in the eastern Bolivian province of Santa Cruz a few days ago to inaugurate construction of the firm’s offices in Puerto Suarez, Prudencio added.
Among the projects scheduled for this year, Jindal will continue repairing a 100-kilometer (62-mile) road to connect El Mutun with a canal linking the Paraguay and Parana rivers, as well as with a major river port that will provide access to the Atlantic Ocean.
Also on tap will be construction of one of six plants at a steel complex in Puerto Suarez that will process 50 percent of the ore from the mine, which holds a total of 40 billion tons of mineral reserves.
Naveen Jindal promised authorities and civic leaders in that town that the company will invest $600 million over the next two years and that steel production in Bolivia will begin in 2014, Prudencio said.
A 2007 contract with President Evo Morales’ government gave Jindal the right to mine roughly half of El Mutun, with the company pledging at that time to invest a total of $2.1 billion in the project.
Jindal initially promised to invest $600 million over three years but the company had only spent $12 million through the first quarter of 2010, saying that it lacked sufficient land for its operations.
Bolivia’s Mining Ministry fined Jindal in April 2010 over the investment delays by collecting the company’s $18 million performance bond.
Jindal’s problems have been “overcome” and it will furnish a new performance bond in the coming days, Prudencio said Wednesday. EFE