Andean Special Report: Ore Dreams Turning Reality

Sep 1, 2008

It has taken 160 years, but the waiting may finally be over for Bolivia’s massive Mutún deposit. Many remain skeptical that the iron ore will ever see the light of day.

Keywords: Bolivia iron ore FDI

by Lucien Chauvin

Cerro Mutún, located at Bolivia’s eastern border with Brazil, contains an estimated 40.2 billion metric tons of iron ore and 10 billion tons of magnesium, ranking it among the world’s largest untapped deposits, according to the US Geological Service. It was first discovered in 1848, but the remoteness of the deposit and cost of moving the mineral out of Bolivia curtailed a number of ambitious exploitation projects. Bolivia’s history of political instability also played a factor in keeping the ore underground.

Mutún’s fate took a new turn in March 2006, when India’s Jindal Steel and Power reached a tentative agreement with the Bolivian government to develop the deposit. Final approval was granted in April 2008, giving Jindal rights to mine 20 billion tons of ore. The remaining reserves are in the hands of a state entity, Mutún Steel Company....

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