BNamericas reported that Bolivian state steel company ESM will purchase the two furnaces that Brazilian investment group EBX built in the El Mutún area when the latter was planning to develop the iron ore and steel project.
Mr José Padilla, advisor to the Pro Santa Cruz civic committee, told BNamericas that “The furnaces were neglected for over five years, and the idea is to have them implemented in order to operate with coal,” Padilla said.
According to the advisor, the plan is to purchase, repair and revamp the furnaces with a USD 25 million investment. He said that “The furnaces are expected to operate with coal within six months.”
In 2006, EBX began constructing two of four planned furnaces to develop a hub for steel production on the border between Brazil and Bolivia, using El Mutún’s resources in Bolivia and iron reserves in Urucum in Brazil.
Bolivian authorities determined the project would generate heavy environmental impact and therefore would not be not viable. Charcoal had been intended for industrial processing however the current expectation is to use coal.
The Brazilian investment group expressed interest in developing and manufacturing El Mutún iron via licitations that took place in 2006 which Jindal Steel & Power was granted, however they withdrew for political reasons after Evo Morales became president.
According to Mr Padilla, another objective of ESM is to purchase the land where the furnaces are located in order to strengthen the area as a production center.
Mr Padilla recently said that ESM is considering directly contracting private companies in order to build several plants for the industrialization of iron ore deposit El Mutún.
One of ESM’s plans is to award contracts for the construction of iron concentration, palletizing, sponge iron and pig iron plants in addition to an electric arc furnace and power plant.