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Bolivia inks deal for Mutun steel project with China's Sinosteel

Sao Paulo — Bolivia Wednesday signed a contract to develop the Mutun iron and steelworks with China's Sinosteel Equipment & Engineering, Boliva's Corporacion Minera de Bolivia (Comibol).

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Bolivian President Evo Morales signed the contract. "They (Sinosteel) will install the mill in two and a half years, delivering the industry and accompanying us during a year to manage our industry," he said in a Comibol statement. "After the contract ends they'll leave and the industry will be for the Bolivians, who will administrate it."

Construction is expected to begin in the next 180 days and is to take 30 months. With this timeframe, Bolivia expects to launch Mutun's operations in 2019.

Bolivia's plan is to build an iron ore concentration plant, with the installed capacity of 650,000 mt/year, a pelletizing plant and a direct reduction plant, with the capacity of 250,000 mt/year, and a steelworks with a continuous caster and a rolling mill to produce 150,000 mt/year of long products.



"Around 86,000 mt of sponge iron will be directed to exports, while the rest will be destined for Bolivia's domestic market," said Morales.

A second phase would revitalize the Mutun mine, including logistical upgrades to move ore from the mine to ports around the region.

The investment required for the steelworks would be around $460 million. About 85% would be funded by China and 15% by Bolivia. Sinosteel's final bid was $450.6 million.

Located in Santa Cruz state, Mutun contains 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@platts.com
--Edited by Richard Rubin, richard.rubin@platts.com