Negotiations have resumed with the US RTZ and FMC Corporation over their proposals to develop the world’s second largest deposits of natural soda at Beypazari, close to Ankara, according to industry sources. A result should be clear by end-September, says Teoman Riza Guneri. the new state minister responsible for state mining agency Etibank.

Press reports say the revived negotiations aim to offset US criticism about the signing in Tehran recently of an $18,000 million gas import agreement. Joint development with Etibank of the Beypazari reserves has been pursued by US interests for about 13 years.

But negotiations with the two companies were shelved when the present coalition came to power in late June, the reports say.

Etibank then said it would develop the deposits itself.

The revived negotiations are for project bids valued in the order of $400 million with outputs of about 1 million tonnes a year.

Etibank sources say. Guneri says an understanding has yet to be reached over when output will start. The US firms say production can begin within 10-12 years., whereas the government would prefer two-and-a-half to three years. says Guneri. If a satisfactory agreement cannot be reached.

Etibank is still prepared to start production by itself the minister adds