Bolivia nationalises Glencore's mining unit

Bolivian government has decided to nationalise Swiss commodity giant Glencore International Plc's Colquiri zinc-tin mine, according to the minister of the presidency Juan Ramon Quintana.

"The government has decided to nationalise the mining company Colquiri, which is privately owned by Sinchi Wayra, a subsidiary of Glencore mining," Quintana said.

A month ago, Bolivia's left-wing socialist government led by president Evo Morales announced its intention to nationalise the local assets of Spanish power producer Red Electrica Corp citing inadequate local investment as a main reason. (See: Bolivia nationalises main power company, Red Electrica)

Baar, Switzerland-based Glencore operates five mines in Bolivia's Oruro and Potosi regions through its subsidiary Sinchi Wayra, which it acquired in 2005. Most of the mining areas are leased from the state mining authority Comibol.

Sinchi Wayra operates underground mines, ore concentrators and smelters and has a total capacity of 205,000 tonnes of zinc concentrate, 15,000 tonnes of lead concentrate and 6,000 tonnes of tin concentrate.

Colquiri zinc-tin mine has an annual production capacity of around 6,000 tonnes of tin concentrate, and has a work force of around 400. The production is believed to be fully exported.

Since his coming into power in 2006, Evo Morales had nationalised several Bolivian companies in sectors such as oil, power, telecommunications, mining and cement. Glencore's two operations were nationalised in 2007 and 2010.