India-based Jindal Steel & Power has taken over the operations of Venezuela’s biggest iron-ore complex, Bloomberg reported.

The development comes just months after Jindal struck a deal with the Venezuelan Government led by Nicolás Maduro, signalling a potential shift in the country’s approach to foreign investment in its mining sector.

Jindal officials are currently conducting inspections at the iron-ore plants of CVG Ferrominera Orinoco, sources privy to the develoment told the news agency.

The complex, controlled by the state-owned conglomerate Corporacion Venezolana de Guayana, comprises five plants that produce iron-ore pellets and briquettes, essential for steelmaking.

Jindal Steel & Power has set a target to export 600,000t of raw material per month by the end of the year.

Additionally, the company plans to make an initial investment of $800,000 (Rs66.93m) to upgrade the existing equipment.

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This partnership marks a significant departure from Venezuela’s historical resistance to private sector involvement in its mining industry, which has been tightly controlled by the government.

Ferrominera’s annual installed capacity stands at 25,000t of iron ore, with proven reserves of 4.2 million tonnes.

However, the plants have been operating below capacity due to years of underinvestment and a power crisis that began in 2009, which forced production cuts to conserve energy.

The company’s output has significantly declined from 15.6 million tonnes in 2001 to 5.7 million tonnes in 2017, as per the Venezuela Iron and Steel Institute.

The metallurgy sector in Venezuela has faced severe setbacks due to expropriations and underinvestment, leading to its near disappearance, according to the news agency.