(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela’s government and Jindal Steel & Power Co. have signed an agreement for the Indian company to run the country’s largest iron-ore producing plant, according to a person with knowledge of the matter, marking the first entry in years by an international firm into the South American nation’s closely held companies. 

Nicolas Maduro’s government signed off on a deal for Jindal Steel & Power to operate CVG Ferrominera Orinoco, Venezuela’s largest iron-ore plant, according to a person who asked not to be identified as the information hasn’t been made public. No details of the agreement, which was inked Friday, were provided. 

Venezuela’s information ministry and Jindal Steel & Power didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. 

The deal is Venezuela’s first step to open up operations in its metallurgic and mining industries to an international private company, after US sanctions hit the country in 2019. Venezuela’s mining and heavy industries are all state owned.    

Ferrominera has an annual installed capacity of 25,000 metric tons of iron ore and proven reserves for 4.2 million metric tons. The plants have been working below capacity due to years of mismanagement, lack of investment and a power crisis that hit the nation in 2009 and forced the company to cut production to save energy. 

Jindal Steel & Power Chairman Naveen Jindal has visited the plants in Bolivar state with technicians, union leader Carlos Ramirez told local newspaper Tal Cual in August.

The government has not published information on the terms of the agreement, fueling questions over the impact on iron-ore supply to local industry. 

“An economic opening process to the private local and international business is needed, but in a public and transparent manner,” the association said in a statement sent to Bloomberg.  

--With assistance from Nicolle Yapur.

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.