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Efforts to convert Bolivia's mothballed Carachipampa lead-silver smelter into a zinc smelter appear to have fallen by the wayside due to the hefty investment required, a Mining Ministry spokesperson told BNamericas.
"The investment involved does not justify this [option]," said the official, adding the technology needed is complicated, the processes involved are very expensive and the project lacks sufficient supplies of concentrates.
The plant has experienced a whole series of problems, and has never functioned properly.
In mid-2000 German company Lurgi (now owned by Finland's Outokumpu) and Russia's Gas Energy Finance wanted to carry out a study with the idea of combining or installing a new zinc-focused smelter that would also treat lead-silver by-products.
But the consortium wanted the Bolivian government to finance the study. "It was decided that Carachipampa wasn't worth another dollar, because so much had already been spent on it," the spokesperson said.
A few months back Bolivia's mining undersecretary Epifanio Mamani told BNamericas the idea was to have Carachipampa working as soon as possible. "But there are difficulties we have to overcome in the country," he said at that time.