[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Morales 'cries nationalisation'
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Tue Oct 17 14:23:57 BST 2006
Bolivia’s President cries ‘nationalization’ again, while ministers
insist mining has nothing to fear
By: Dorothy Kosich
Posted: '17-OCT-06 08:00' GMT © Mineweb 1997-2006
RENO, NV (Mineweb.com) --It was the same old pattern this week as
Bolivian President Evo Morales threatened to nationalize the nation’s
mining industry, while his ministers insisted foreign miners had nothing
Bolivia’s official news agency Agencia Boliviana de Información (ABI)
reported Monday that the president announced that tin, silver and gold
mining will revert to state-ownership again.
In a speech honoring the founding of the city of Challapata in the
Province of Eduardo Abarora in the Department of Oruro, Morales
announced that a new mining code will be launched October 31, which
includes state control of exploration, exploitation, smelting and
marketing of mining in Bolivia. “We have begun with hydrocarbons, the
next step are the minerals, there will be surprises with the tin, the
silver and the gold, those minerals have to pass to the Bolivian State
under the social control of the Bolivian people. That is the next urgent
step,” he declared.
Last May, Morales nationalized the hydrocarbons industry, increased
taxes on foreign petroleum operations, and began to negotiate new
contracts with foreign operators.
However, by late afternoon Monday, Bolivia’s business-oriented Vice
President Alvaro Garcia told ABI that “the private investor has no need
to worry. Comibol (the state mining company) is going to be revitalized.
The president is working on that but private investment, foreign and
local, that invests and that generates jobs, won’t be touched.”
U.S.-based silver mining companies Coeur d’Alene Mines and Apex Silver
Mines are both major building silver projects in Bolivia. In an e-mail
to Mineweb Monday, Coeur Vice President Scott Lamb said that in the case
of Coeur’s San Bartolome project, “the government already owns the
mineral resource. We simply lease these rights from the government.”
Lamb also noted that the government doesn’t approve of foreign mining
companies that are sitting on claims, but not spending money to develop
them. “Again, that is not an issue for us.”
Colorado-based Apex did not respond to Mineweb’s request for comment by
our deadline late Monday night.
Meanwhile, the Bolivian Government Monday commenced arbitration with
Comibol and the National Confederacy of Mining Cooperatives of Bolivia
(Fencomin) after the two sides were involved in a violent confrontation
October 5th at Combiol’s Empresa Minera Huanani tin mine that killed 16
persons and wounded at least 50 others. The cooperatives were demanding
access to tin deposits when state-employed miners counterattacked.
Morales called the confrontation the worst days of his president, and
fired then-Minister of Mines Walter Villaroel and the head of Comibol
The main goal of Bolivia’s new Minister of Mining and Steel Guillermo
Dalence is to turn the 4,000 miners belonging to the four cooperatives
of Huanuni into Comibol employees, according to Prensa Latina. ABI
reported that Dalence hopes the proposal will reactivate Bolivia’s
The government suggests that the cooperative miners be allowed to
continue mining on Posokoni hill. Meanwhile, Comibol will open other
areas for mining, including Maria Francisca, Pepitos and Porvenior.
Bolivia’s government also plans to expand the Machacamarca tin plant to
a 500tpd capacity.
Dalence said the government also hopes to turn its attention to the
widows and orphans of the recent conflict, and rebuild offices and homes
that were destroyed by dynamiting during the violence.
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