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Bolivia To Take Over Glencore Mining Operations

Published by MAC on 2006-10-23


Bolivia to take over Glencore mining operations


23rd October 2006

LA PAZ, Bolivia – The Bolivian government is planning to return to state control several mining concessions belonging to Swiss mining company Glencore International AG, Bolivia's President Evo Morales said Monday. "Because the country is asking for it, those mines are going to be taken back," the leftist leader told reporters.

The announcement comes more than a week before Bolivian officials are expected to announce a plan aimed at revitalizing the country's dilapidated mining industry.

Bolivian government officials have said the plan, to be unveiled Oct. 31, will focus on giving the Bolivian state "unrestricted use" of mining resources.

Foreign companies with operations in South America's poorest country are closely watching moves by Morales' government after it nationalized the energy industry in May.

In February 2005, Glencore bought Compania Minera del Sur, Bolivia's largest tin smelter, previously controlled by former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada.

Glencore operates in Bolivia through its Bolivian subsidiary, Sinchi Wayra, which owns five mines of zinc, silver, tin, and lead.

A Glencore executive in Bolivia told Reuters the company was not aware of the government's decision.

"We are preparing an important decision regarding the mines of Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada," said Morales.

The Bolivian government is seeking to extradite Sanchez de Lozada, who has lived in the United States since October 2003, to face charges stemming from the deaths of 67 protesters during street demonstrations that forced his ouster three years ago.

In a move that alienated multinational companies with investments in Bolivia, leftist Morales nationalized the country's energy sector in May, handing the Bolivian government greater control over energy production and a larger share of profit.

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