The Bolivian state mining company, Comibol, has signed a US$75M contract for construction of a new tin and zinc processing plant at the tin-zinc mine, according to local news sources.

The 2,000tpd plant will be built by the Bolivian company Ziegler and will double processing capacity at the mine, which currently treats 900 to 1,200tpd of tin and zinc ore, at recoveries of above 75%. The project has been funded by the US firm Nalex International by way of a ten-year loan. The Ministry of Mining has previously suggested that the new plant will allow an increase in production to just less than 7,500 tonnes of tin and 40,000 tonnes of zinc each year.

Bolivian President Evo Morales, who attended the signing, stated: “We trust the company will meet its commitments… We hope to be here celebrating the new Colquiri plant in three years’ time.” Comibol also opened the US$12M, 2km, Blanca Norte ramp at the site, which provides ore haulage trucks with access to the mine.

ITRI View: The government has indicated that it plans further upgrades to Colquiri with Morales pledging additional funds for development; ITRI has previously learnt that following construction of the new facility, the existing ore dressing plant may be optimised for treating tailings from day-to-day operations and from the tailings ponds, where tin content is estimated at some 0.5% Sn. Total production from Colquiri in 2015 totalled 4,229 tonnes of tin and 15,700 tonnes of zinc.We anticipate that total mine output in will grow steadily in the medium term to long term, as a result of ongoing expansion projects in the Bolivian tin industry, including the planned new plant at Colquiri.