Uruguay to Build Iron-Ore Seaport Eyeing Chinese Investment

Uruguay’s government is going forward with plans to build its first deepwater port which it wants to use as a platform to begin exporting iron-ore to China.

Construction of the port on the country’s Atlantic coastline will begin in 2014, according to a decree signed by President Jose Mujica and published on his website today expropriating land where the port will be built.

China has expressed interest in investing in the port, Vice President Danilo Astori said over the weekend following a meeting in Montevideo with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

Minera Aratiri since 2007 has been developing a project to export an estimated 18 million metric tons a year of iron-ore that the Montevideo-based company says would convert Uruguay into the world’s eighth-largest producer of the mineral.

Aratiri says it would create 1,500 permanent jobs and contribute $1.4 billion to Uruguay’s $39 billion economy over the life of the 20-30 year project.

Aratiri is controlled by Zamin Ferrous, a closely held miner which also is developing iron-ore projects in Brazil.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lucia Baldomir in Montevideo at lbaldomir@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net

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