Bolivian President Evo Morales has announced the agreement of a US $106 million deal between the state mining company Comibol and ThyssenKrupp of Germany to supply 13,200 tonnes of tin over two years from 2016. He was speaking at a televised news conference on returning from a trip to Germany aimed at encouraging investment in Bolivia. The deal had previously been reported in the trade press.
State news service ABI said this is part of a drive to increase sales of the metal and will be produced by the Vinto tin smelter in Bolivia, which started up a $ 39.5 million Ausmelt blast furnace in September this year. It has a production capacity of 18,000 tpy of refined tin and is expected to increase production from 11,734 t in 2014 to 14,000 t in 2016. However the new furnace’s operations have been delayed by technical problems this year.
Meanwhile falling tin prices continue to cause problems higher up the supply chain in Bolivia. The largest state run tin mine and supplier of tin concentrate to Vinto, Huanuni, has lost some US$ 4 million between January 2014 and September 2015. Theoretically a company reporting continuous losses for two years can be declared bankrupt under Bolivian law. According to the manager of the mine, Samuel Orosco, in an interview with La Razon newspaper, the impact of lower tin prices has been compounded by high labour costs at the mine and the failure of various proposed cost-cutting measures. Furthermore average monthly tin production has remained at some 600 tonnes of contained tin, compared to a target of 800 tpm. He stated that mineral thefts amount to 50 – 80 tonnes per month. Despite the problems, Huanuni is still pursuing investments in a tailings dam and the development of lead/zinc/silver resources.