MONTEVIDEO -- Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto has decided to halt a project planned for western Uruguay for at least one year due to the global financial crisis, the government said Tuesday.
The iron-ore port slated for La Agraciada, a town located in Soriano province, was expected to cost $320 million and employ about 1,000 people in the construction phase and 180 permanently.
Iron ore from Brazil would be transported to the port via the Parana and Uruguay rivers, and from the Soriano terminal, at the mouth of the River Plate, the mineral would then be shipped to Europe and China.
Rio Tinto, according to Transportation and Public Works Ministry officials, notified the government of the decision on Monday, blaming the delay on the global economic downturn.
The mining company halted a $2.15 billion investment plan that included the Uruguay project, which depended on an increase in output from Rio Tinto's mine in Corumba, Brazil.
Last month, Rio Tinto said it planned to eliminate 14,000 jobs and focus on paying down $10 billion of its $38.9 billion debt over the course of this year.
The Transportation and Public Works Ministry said the project was only being delayed and would be completed once the global economy recovered.