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Bolivia's Mutun receives $56 million investment from China's Eximbank

Sao Paulo — Bolivia's Mutun iron ore mine and steelworks project received its initial investment of $56 million, Empresa Siderurgica del Mutun (ESM) President Jesus Lara said Thursday.

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The $56 million investment came from the Export-Import Bank of China (Eximbank). Resources for the project currently total $546 million. The first expected amount for the project was $396 million of preferential credit from Eximbank to finance construction, execution and commissioning.

Bolivia's central bank had authorized an investment of $9.9 million in the last week of December through the Empresa Siderurgica del Mutun (ESM).

China's Sinosteel Equipment started its preliminary work in the area in mid-June, backed by investment from Eximbank, but construction of the steel plant has not begun yet. It was originally slated to start in April, and is expected to take about 30 months, with some operations expected to begin in 2020.

The first phase of the steelmaking project calls for the construction of a 650,000 mt/year iron ore concentrate plant, a pelletizing plant, a 250,000-mt/year direct-reduction plant and a steelworks with a continuous caster and rolling mill capable of producing 190,000 mt/year of long products.

A second phase is to add a caster with capacity to produce 450,000 mt/year of flat products, while a third phase would take longs capacity to 450,000 mt/year and flats capacity to 550,000 mt/year. No timeframe has been disclosed for phases two and three.

Mutun, in Santa Cruz state, has 40 billion mt of iron ore deposits. The mine has a production capacity of 1 million mt/year of iron ore fines.

-- Guilherme Baida, guilherme.baida@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Richard Rubin, newsdesk@spglobal.com

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