The Endowment Fund for Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT) said that 18 local and international companies had responded to the tender for feasibility study to erect a steel mill in Shire, Tigray Regional State.
The companies which expressed interest in conducting feasibility study include TATA, the Indian consultancy service, and Mastell, a Chinse consultant.
The bids from the 18 companies were scheduled to be technically and financially evaluated yesterday.
Ezana Mining Development, one of the five companies under EFFORT, said that it had identified an estimated reserve of 180 million tonnes of iron ore.
Ezana Mining Development, which has a prospect mining licence from the Tigray Regional State Mining Office, had requested exploration licence for iron ore from the Ministry of Mines on an area in Shire two months ago.
The Ministry of Mines has so far issued 56 exploration and seven production licences and cancelled 17 exploration licences in the last fiscal year.
Ethiopia imported 327,832 tonnes of steel and other various iron ore materials worth 233.6 million dollars in 2010/11, according to the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority.