Bolivia awaiting US$350mn Chinese loan to build zinc refinery

Bnamericas Published: Friday, November 11, 2022
Bolivia awaiting US$350mn Chinese loan to build zinc refinery

The Bolivian government is hoping that China's Eximbank approves a US$350mn loan in the next few weeks to finance the construction of a zinc refinery in the industrial city of Oruro.

The plant, which was included in the government's 2021-25 economic and social development plan and which is expected to be completed in 2024, would have a processing capacity of 150,000t/y of zinc concentrates, supplied mostly by the companies Colquiri and Bolívar, principally from Potosí department in Bolivia's southwest.

Colquiri is currently working on a project to increase its concentrate production capacity from 1,000t/d to 3,000t/d, with that output going to the new refinery.

The objective of the plant is to obtain around 65,000t/y of metallic zinc for export and to recover byproducts such as silver, tin, lead and industrial metals including indium, gallium and germanium, according to mining and metallurgy minister Ramiro Villavicencio Niño de Guzmán.

At the beginning of this month, a technical committee of experts from China's cooperation agency met representatives and technicians from the ministries of hydrocarbons and energy, environment and water, development planning, public works, labor, and mining and metallurgy, and visited the firms Colquiri, Bolívar and Metalúrgica Vinto.

The committee collected information on environmental issues, supplies, raw materials, technological processes, facilities, feasibility, reserves, production capacity, volume and grades of minerals for the refinery.

The report of the Chinese technical committee is a preliminary step for the approval of the Eximbank loan.

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