Bolivian firm told to pay JSPL $22.5 million

Bolivian firm told to pay JSPL $22.5 million

Jindal Steel Bolivia, an arm of Jindal Steel and Power, has won in excess of $22.5 million arbitration judgment against state-run mining company Empresa Siderurgica del Mutun (ESM).

“Jindal Steel Bolivia has been vindicated in connection with its investment in the El Mutun project in Bolivia by an international tribunal ordering payment to Jindal of more than $22.5 million by ESM,” JSPL said in a statement .

Jindal commenced arbitration before International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) of Paris and sought recovery of $18 million principal, plus interest, related to illegal encashment of the bank guarantees. In an award dated August 6, 2014, the ICC Tribunal agreed to grant principal plus interest in excess of $22.5 million.

JSPL had in 2007 entered into a joint venture pact with Bolivian state, ESM and another state-run firm to develop and exploit El Mutun iron ore mine, having reserves of around 40 billion tonnes of iron ore in eastern Bolivia.

The company also planned to set up a 1.7 million tonne per annum capacity steel plant along with other facilities for backward integration with an investment of $2.1 billion.

JSPL said it had invested “tens of millions of dollars” in the project, including providing $18 million in project guarantees. It said the project was impeded because it never received access to land where the project was to be developed, contrary to the contract.

Jindal also said that bank guarantees amounting to $18 million were wrongly encashed. JSPL said the Tribunal ruled that there was no entitlement “to encash the guarantees” and “ESM breached, with its encashment, the contract obligations in respect of Jindal”. “There was ‘more than sufficient evidence... to establish that ESM did not comply with the obligation to deliver the lands and this suspended Jindal’s obligations under the contract,” JSPL quoted Tribunal as saying.

In addition to unlawful encashment in 2010, additional actions by Bolivia and entities undermined the El Mutún project and forced termination of the project contract, it said.

“Jindal has commenced a second ICC arbitration related to the project, focused among other things on damages arising out of the termination of the Mutún contract. Jindal is seeking damages approaching approximately $100 million,” JSPL said. The case is pending. Jindal instructed the international lawyers of White & Case for both arbitrations," JSPL said.

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