MAC: Mines and Communities

Will Evo Stick?

Published by MAC on 2005-12-23

Will Evo stick?

23rd December 2005

Evo Morales, the recently elected Indigenous president of Bolivia, faces a serious test: the bidding process to develop the gigantic El Mutún iron ore deposit in Santa Cruz department - seat of the country's wealthy business elite. Companies that have bought "bidding rules" are Brazil's EMPX Siderúrgica Brasil, China's Luneng Shandong Group, Mittal Steel, Argentina's Siderar, and India's Jindal Steel & Power. Will Evo try to block foreign companies from developing mining projects in Bolivia? Will El Mutún be nationalised? For many observers, El Mutún seems to be crucial test for the new government mining policies. But, already, Morales seems to be leaning backwards to allay the qualms of the minerals industry and its wealthy backers.

Meanwhile, in Argentina, the "left-wing" Néstor Kirchner has followed neo-liberal predecessor, Carlos Menem, without changing a comma of the law. In Venezuela, Carlos Chaves continues to proclaim his "new mining framework" but, on the ground, little seems to have changed.

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