[ferro-alloys.com]Mining and processing operations at Venezuela's only iron ore producer, Ferrominera Orinoco, have been at much reduced rates reaching less than 10% of installed capacity, sources said Wednesday.
According to unofficial numbers from unions, the company produced 3 million mt of iron ore in 2018. For comparison, the company produced around 7 million mt of iron ore fines in 2016 and 2017.
Currently in 2019, operations are on hold. According to sources, most operations have been on hold since a strike started in September, which has not been resolved. The company had been producing at very low rates before the strike, affecting the country's hot-briquetted iron and steel sectors.
The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Not only are Ferrominera's iron ore mines not in operation but its pellets and hot-briquetted iron plants are currently also stopped. Venezuela's HBI sector relies on Ferrominera's pellets supply.
In mid-February, authorities of the Commission of Control of the National Assembly installed a special commission to investigate the falling production of the basic companies of Venezuela's Guayana region, where most of the country's companies are located, and the different cases of corruption that have been generated in the region.
Ferrominera plans to expand its annual iron ore production capacity to 40 million mt from the current 25 million mt within three to four years, as a result of planned railway construction, the company said in 2017-18.
It also has an installed capacity of 3.3 million mt/year of pellets and is building a second pellets line with 3 million mt/year capacity. The company's installed capacity is 1 million mt/year of hot-briquetted iron.
（S&P Global Platts）