HAVANA, April 4 (Xinhua) -- Cuban Commercial Caribbean Nickel and Chilean RM Consulting firms signed a contract Tuesday on feasibility studies on a future joint project to recover minerals, marking a new step for foreign investment in Cuba's mining sector.
The ceremony covers the technical and economic viability of the Colas Negras mining project in the province of Holguin, some 800 km east of Havana.
And once the research is completed and positive results are obtained, a joint venture would be formed to explore and commercialize the minerals present in the area, especially iron.
According to the directors of the two parties, existing capacity in the area could reach 120 million tons of iron, with an estimated operational lifespan of the project for 20 years.
Ronny Munoz, representative of the Chilean company, told Xinhua that Cuba's potential is enormous and as a growing economy, Cuba is a country with many possibilities. "We have the capacity to contribute to what Cuba needs in certain areas such as capital."
Munoz added that as a very important country in mining, particularly in copper and iron, Chile can contribute with its technological experience, and along with the qualified Cuban labor force, good results would come.
The project is the first to come from a public-private commercial mission, carried out by the Chilean Foreign Ministry, to Cuba in 2015.
"This first step contributes to the Cuban strategy of increasing foreign investment. And we will contribute to the future extraction of iron for export to international markets through this contract," said the Chilean ambassador in Havana, Ricardo Herrera.
Mining is one of the pillars of foreign investment in Cuba. And currently, the extraction of nickel in the east of the island, carried out jointly with Canadian company Sherritt, is one of the government's main sources of revenue.
Official data indicates that with China, the EU and Canada being the main customers, the profits of nickel exceed 500 million U.S. dollars per year.