Coeur says Morales Administration won’t nationalize San Bartolomé mine

Bolivian officials says President Evo Morales will announce on May 1 that he is dismantling Bolivian mining’s “privatization model” and will nationalize former state-owned mines.

Coeur d’Alene Mines announced Thursday that it has received assurances from the Morales Administration that its San Bartolomé silver mine is not targeted for any proposed mining nationalization in Bolivia.

“During a meeting Thursday with Bolivian Mining Minister Jose Pimentel, the Minister assured Coeur Manquiri and members of the Federation of Mining Workers Trade Union (FSTMB) that Manquiri will not be nationalized,” said Humberto Rada, president of Coeur South America and Coeur Manquiri, the subsidiary that operates San Bartolomé.

Coeur said all surface mining and silver production at San Bartolomé are operating as usual. “The labor unions working with management at San Bartolomé have openly denounced any nationalization and expressed their support of Manquiri as have the mining cooperatives in Potosi, who are a strong social and political influence in Bolivia,” the company said.

Bolivian President Evo Morales plans to expropriate zinc, silver and tin mines sold off by previous Bolivian governments.  Nicholas Fernandez, a spokesman for state mining company Comibol, said Morales will announce a decree May 1st, which is International Workers Day, to “dismantle the privatization model.”

Mining Ministry spokesman Alfredo Zacometa said the Bolivian government is now in talks with miners at Pan American Silver Corp., and Glencore International whether to nationalize their Bolivian operations. Morales previously expropriated the Vinto tin smelter from Glencore in 2007.

On Thursday, Pan American spokeswoman Kettina Cordeo told the Dow Jones Newswire, “We have not been contacted by anybody from any Bolivian government organization. We have tried to get in touch with them to get clarification on what’s been reported by the media.” Pan American’s San Vicente mine in Bolivia produced about 12% of the company’s silver production in 2010.


Metatags: Mining expropriation, mining nationalization, Coeur d’Alene Mines, San Bartolome silver mine, Bolivian silver mining, Glencore International, Pan American Silver

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