Bolivia’s state-owned tin smelter, Empresa Metalúrgica Vinto (EMV), has reported increased refined production of 13,111t during 2016, up 8.3% compared to the previous year, according to local news sources.

The figure was reported by EMV’s CEO, Ramiro Villavicencio. Last year was the first to see full operation of the company’s Ausmelt furnace, which was commissioned in September 2015, hence an increase in output was expected. However, the reported increase has fallen short of the official target of 14,000 tonnes.

Bolivian Mining Minister, Cesar Navarro, has explained that the shortfall was primarily a result of lower concentrate supply from the Huanuni tin mine, which is also owned by the state mining company, Comibol. A drought in Q4 resulted in a shortage of water available at Huanuni, both for drilling within the mine and for processing at the dressing plant, resulting in lower concentrate output.

ITRI View: The long-term target for production from Vinto is 18,000tpy of refined tin. However, the ability of EMV to meet this target will be influenced far more by the availability of concentrate and its suitability for the Ausmelt process than by changes and improvements made at the smelting plant. However, despite the disruption to tin mining due to last year’s drought, our medium-term outlook for Bolivian tin mining remains positive, with a new plant at Huanuni yet to enter operation and funding committed for a new ore processing plant at the Colquiri tin-zinc mine, also owned by Comibol. Official 2016 production figures for the two state-owned mines are expected in due course.