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Iran in $83 mln steel deal with Japan-led group

TEHRAN, May 24 (Reuters) - Iran signed an $83 million deal with a Japanese-led consortium on Wednesday to build the country's first pelletising plant. Japan's Kobe Steel Ltd is to build the plant with an annual capacity of 3.4 million tonnes.

Kobe Steel representative Fumio Yamashita signed the deal in Tehran with the head of the state National Iranian Steel Company, Mostafa Moazenzadeh.

Mitsubishi Trust & Banking Corp and Marubeni Corp will finance the project in Ardakan in the central province of Yazd.

Swiss engineering group ABB and a Spanish firm will provide technical assistance.

Iran 's mines and metals ministry is to also spend the equivalent of $55 million in local currency on the project, part of a plan to raise annual raw steel output to 14.7 million tonnes by 2005 from a current level of about 6.5 million tonnes.

The project, near Chador-Malou iron ore mine which is expected to feed the plant, is scheduled to take 42 months to complete.

"We hope to be able to gain the technology to fulfil our goals to develop the steel industry," Mines and Metals Minister Eshaq Jahangiri said at the signing ceremony.

Iran 's steel sector drew more than $1.2 billion in foreign funds in the year to March.


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