--Vedanta eyes first Liberia iron ore shipment in or by March 2014, scoping study due this quarter
-- Vedanta sees $500 million to $700M capex to develop a 30 million-ton-a-year iron ore project by 2016
-- Vedanta sees operating cash cost of $30-$35/ton, FOB and expects payback within two to three years
By Alex MacDonald
India-focused Vedanta Resources PLC (>> Vedanta Resources plc) expects the first shipment of iron ore from its Liberian investment to occur in or by March 2014, and it expects to complete the scoping study for the project this quarter.
P.K. Mukherjee, managing director of project owner Sesa Goa Ltd. (500295.BY), a majority-owned unit of Vedanta, said it would be developed in two phases with 7 million-10 million metric tons of iron ore produced from the first phase and about 20 million-25 million tons from the second phase.
In total, the Liberian operations are expected to produce around 30 million tons of iron ore annually at an operating cash cost of $30-$35/ton, free on board, he said.
The project is expected to be fully be commissioned by 2016, he said.
Anil Agarwal, Vedanta's chairman didn't say what the return would be on the project but he said "we always look at a payback of two- to three-years' time."
Agarwal said the project could cost between $500 million and $700 million to develop but although a more precise capital expenditure figure won't be known until the scoping study has been completed.
The Liberia iron ore project is forecast to be as cost competitive as Sesa Goa's iron ore operations in India, meaning it will be a low-cost iron ore producer, one of Vedanta's senior executives said.
-By Alex MacDonald, Dow Jones Newswires; +44 (0)20 7842 9328; firstname.lastname@example.org