Saturday, December 03, 2005

FDI: Five International Mining Companies Show Interest in El Mutún Iron Ore Project

According to a press release from the Bolivian Vice ministry of Industry, Commerce and Exports four companies have formalized interest in developing the El Mutún iron ore project in southeastern Bolivia, by purchasing official bid prospects from the governmental entity.

The Mutun Reserve is located near the border with Brazil

The companies mentioned were:

- Mittal Steel Group. - Mittal, a firm based in Rotterdam is the largest steel company in the planet, a market cap in the 20B and operations in every continent.
- Shandong Luneng Mining Group. – This Chinese LLC has raised a lot of interest in the Bolivian public, traditionally not used to receiving investment from Chinese firms.
- Jindall Steel & Power.- Also a major player in its local region, this Indian company has been seen with much interest as a non-traditional investor. It’s the latest to be added to the bidding
- EBX Siderúrgica Bolivia. - (Still looking for website) EBX is a Brazilian company (or perhaps “Sociedad Accidental”) apparently set up for the express purpose of this bidding.
- The Techint Group -SIDERAR.- Which is another society formed for this biding its composed by Argentina’s largest smelter and global engineering, construction firm Techint.

The Project is basically a Joint Venture lasting forty years, which will cover development, refining, industrialization and export of iron ore. The value of the project is estimated within $US 1.100 million and $US 5.300 by the Vice ministry. Participation of the state will be represented by the Empresa Sidregúrgica Mutún. The support structure for the project is also starting to be reinforced, recently the government of Korea announced it would finance a $US25.3 million project (financed by the Eximbank, and to be executed by the Korean contractor Sambu) for the construction of a bridge over Río Grande and Port of Pailas, - an essential railway crossing, necessary for the transport of refined ore products. Natural gas provisions for the project are also existent; however connection to the site itself will have to be built from the GTB Bolivia-Brazil pipeline.

The Mutún project represents a long-awaited project for development in Bolivia and the Santa Cruz Department; it’s expected to generate over 10,000 direct and indirect jobs during the length of the project. The site holds some of the continent’s largest iron ore reserves (at an estimated 40 billion metric tons of iron ore base, according to Jan 05, USGS survey) and will begin production at an impressive 1.5 million tons, and generate a tax base of $US 50 million yearly.

The bidding process will take place this month, and it’s scheduled to finalize December 22. The official text for the bidding can be found by visiting this link.

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