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India's Jindal Steel & Power will fire up iron ore production in May at the El Mutún deposit in Bolivia's Santa Cruz department, a spokesperson from the country's mining and metallurgy ministry (MMM) told BNamericas.
The spokesperson said the final properties were set to be issued to Jindal over the weekend so it can move ahead with works in the zone.
However, three of the five property agreements have not been signed which could delay the land transfer, according to the spokesperson.
"It would have to be a case of extreme carelessness on behalf of the landowners since it would delay the issuance and put off the process even longer," the spokesperson said.
Jindal was awarded the concession for 50% of El Mutún in a bidding process in mid-2006.
The government formed state steel company Esem to enable it to sign a JV contract with state miner Comibol and Jindal for the industrial development of the project, which calls for a US$2.1bn investment.
El Mutún covers an area of 65km2 in the Germán Busch province of Santa Cruz department. The deposit holds some 40Bt of reserves with an average grade of 50% iron.