LA PAZ, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Bolivia said on Tuesday it awarded a contract to China's Sinosteel Equipment & Engineering Co Ltd to extract iron ore from the country's biggest mine, known as El Mutun.
Sinosteel, a unit of China's biggest state-owned steel trader Sinosteel Corp, beat fellow Chinese company Henan Complant Mechanical for the $400 million mining and steel-making contract.
The project includes construction of a processing plant in southeast Bolivia expected to produce 150,000 tonnes of steel per year starting in 2017, allowing the country to save $230 million in annual steel imports form Peru and Brazil.
Mining Minister César Navarro said Sinosteel was awarded the contract thanks to the company's "experience in public projects and sound financial backing."
At an estimated 40,000 million tonnes, the Mutun is believed to have some of the world's biggest iron ore reserves. (Reporting by Daniel Ramos; Editing by Diane Craft)