New Vinto zinc smelter to complement Karachipampa output

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bolivia's government plans to install a zinc smelter at tin producer Empresa Metalúrgica Vinto (EMV) that will complement the Karachipampa plant's future output, EMV manager Ramiro Villavicencio told BNamericas.

While Karachipampa looks to recover lead-silver in concentrates, it also plans to build a zinc smelter.

The new plant will allow EMV to fully exploit the country's reserves, "and to add value so that Oruro department, where EMV is located, may benefit economically," Villavicencio added.

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The tender for the plant's construction contract is expected to be launched by the government in May, he said.

EMV expects to invest around US$140mn this year in different areas of its plant, Villavicencio previously told BNamericas.

In 2009 Vinto produced a record 11,800t of tin and the company has set a production goal of 13,000t for 2010.

Canadian company Atlas Precious Metals (APM) announced in March that it will start operations in early 2011 at the Karachipampa plant located in Potosí department.

The company plans to invest US$85mn in the complex, including modernizing a silver-lead concentrate treatment plant and building a zinc smelter.

In June 2005, state miner Comibol and APM signed a JV agreement to reactivate the 51,000t/y plant. APM has a 65% share and the Bolivian state holds the remainder.

The plant was completed in 1983 at a cost of US$500mn but has never been brought into production.