Official statistics from Bolivian Ministry of Minerals and Metals reveal that while drought and delayed investment have impacted mined tin output, which fell 13.3% year-on-year to 17,460 tonnes in 2016, refined tin production rose 8.7% to 16,810 tonnes over the same period as more material was processed in-country.
The data reveals that tin mine output by state companies fell by 16.5% to 10,692 tonnes and from co-operatives fell by 20.1% to 2,579 tonnes in 2016, while production from private mines rose by 2.1% to 4,190 tonnes. Officially reported refined tin production by the state-owned tin smelter, Vinto, rose 8.2% to 13,032 tonnes in 2016, with the remainder produced by the private smelter, OMSA.
Total exports were reported as 16,675 tonnes of refined tin and 469 tonnes of tin concentrate (gross weight). In 2016, the USA remained the top destination for Bolivian tin exports with shipments totalling 8,253 tonnes, with China second at 4,255 tonnes and the EU third at 2,872 tonnes.
ITRI View: Falling co-operative production in the La Paz department and lower production by the state-owned Huanuni tin mine near Oruro are mostly responsible for the lower production total, with output affected by Bolivia’s worst drought in 25 years. The impact has been compounded at Huanuni by ongoing reliance and underinvestment in Huanuni’s ageing Santa Elena ore dressing plant. Production may well see a short-term recovery in 2017, but medium-term prospects for Bolivian tin production will largely depend on successful implementation of maintenance and expansion projects at Bolivia’s state-owned mine operations.-