Production from the El Mutun iron ore deposit in Bolivia's Santa Cruz department could be exported through Chilean ports, the department's representative on the board of state steel company Esem, Jose Padilla, told BNamericas.
"There's a project to build a railroad from El Mutun to Chilean ports on the Pacific, but there is only a rough draft of this proposal," Padilla said.
Talks are currently being held with companies from China and Argentina that have expressed interest in providing logistical support for the transport of iron ore or the products generated at the steel plant. "But nothing is definite yet," he said.
Transport to Pacific ports should be done in two stages, first using barges along the waterway from Puerto Busch, and then by rail to a port on the Pacific, according to Padilla.
"The cargo volumes are large, so both of these options need to be considered," he said.
El Mutun is located in a 65km2 area of Santa Cruz's German Busch province and has 40Bt in reserves grading 50% iron ore.
Esem and state miner Comibol have a JV with India's Jindal Steel & Power to develop 50% of the deposit. The government is currently looking for a partner to develop the other 50%.