MAC: Mines and Communities

Nationalisation - no help in ending Bolivian mine fight

Published by MAC on 2012-09-12

For background, see: Bolivia: to nationalise or not?

Nationalization is no help ending a mine fight in Bolivia

Cecilia Jamasmie

5 September 2012

Bolivia has lost $1 million due to a conflict at a silver, tin and zinc mine, which used to belong to commodity trader Glencore  but was nationalized by President Evo Morales last June.

According to the country's Mining National Corporation (Comibol), the dispute between miners and contractors over rights to exploit Colquiri's Rosario vein will cost the country $200,000 a day from now on, adding to the already hefty loss figure, reported local media Wednesday.

Comibol took over Colquiri after Bolivia's leftist government seized Colquiri tin and zinc mine, revoking the mining licence of Sinchi Wayra - a wholly owned subsidiary of Glencore - after mining co-operatives and indigenous groups fought to take over the mine by force.

The move, said by Morales to be the best way of ending a long dispute between the global commodities giant and its workers and among the miners themselves, has not solved any conflicts so far.

What's more, the increasing violence and disagreement might force the government to exclude unions from running the mine, the Minister of Mines, Mario Virreira, told Radio Bolivia Net

Morales has raised taxes and nationalized the key natural gas industry as well as the telecommunications and electricity sectors, since taking power in 2006. Earlier this year, Bolivia took over assets from Spain's Red Eléctrica Corp. (REE) and Pan American Energy LLC.

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