The Bolivian government has begun studies for the construction of a high-speed railway to join the El Mutun iron ore deposit in Santa Cruz department with a Pacific ocean port, an official from the mining and metallurgy ministry (MMM) told BNamericas.
"The objective is for the line to reach either a Chilean or Peruvian port," the official said.
The studies should be ready this year, according to the official, who added: "From there, things such as the amount to be invested will be defined."
In addition to transporting the cargo generated at El Mutun, the new railway is intended to support the economic activity of cities such as Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, La Paz and Oruro.
Jindal Steel & Power has begun the feasibility study for the infrastructure needed to transport the production from El Mutun, the Santa Cruz representative on the board of state steel company ESM, Jose Padilla, told BNamericas.
"These studies are to determine how the railway will connect El Mutun to the ports," Padilla said.
VIA THE ATLANTIC
In November, Laborum Bolivia said that it would present a plan to the government to invest US$300mn-500mn in infrastructure to transport the production from El Mutun.
The proposal involves building a river port in the Puerto Busch area to access the Atlantic ocean via the Parana-Paraguay and La Plata rivers.
Laborum's plan also involves building a railway to move cargo from the mine to Puerto Busch.
Jindal acquired 50% of El Mutun through a public bidding process in June 2006 and in 2007, the Bolivian government created state steel company ESM to work with state miner Comibol and sign a JV with Jindal to develop El Mutun.
El Mutun is located in a 65km2 area of Santa Cruz's German Busch province and has 40Bt in reserves grading 50% iron ore.