Bolivia to nationalise mines

Published: Thursday 15 March 2007

Bolivian vice-president Alvaro Garcia recently said that the nationalisation of the country's largest tin smelter, the Vinto tin smelter and refinery, was irreversible. The plant, located in Oruro department, was owned by Swiss firm Glencore. This was another signal that the country is committed to its nationalisation programme. Garcia's statement comes close on the heels of the February 9, 2007 presidential decree, Federico Escobar Zapata, which aims to nationalise the mining sector and reforms it.

Despite huge mining reserves, Bolivia is considered South America's poorest country. Recently, Bolivia's president, Evo Morales, had sent a bill to congress calling for an increase in the mining tax levied on foreign mining firms in the country.

For the past 20 years, the country was "under the delusion" that foreign investment would generate jobs and growth, but the state never saw profits, said Garcia.Following nationalisation, the Vinto smelter is expected to contribute us $6 million annually to the state exchequer.

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