Bolivia to build US$34mn La Paz scrap metal foundry

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Bolivia plans to build a US$34mn scrap metal foundry in La Paz, part of a government program to spur industrialization in the Andean nation, President Evo Morales said.

The state will sign a contract next week for the construction of the foundry in the Kallutaca industrial park, Morales said at a broadcast ceremony in the Bolivian capital.

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Morales, who last week announced plans for a bronze and brass foundry in the central highland mining town of Oruro, said the scrap foundry would avoid the need to export 138t/d of scrap metal to neighboring Peru. Scrap is also sold to Brazil. Bolivia then reimports the metal once it has been refined abroad, he said.

"We proposed to our ministers and the vice-president as to why we can't install a foundry here instead of sending scrap abroad," Morales said. "We need to smelt so the metal sheets stay here."

Morales, who is running for a third consecutive term in office in the October 12 elections, has been stepping up inaugurations and investment announcements this year. Morales last month said, if elected, his government would foster the development of the country's mining industry.

Recent inaugurations include the US$57mn upgrade of the 51,000t/y Karachipampa lead-silver smelter, the expansion of the Empresa Metalúrgica Vinto (EMV) tin smelter to 18,000t/y and a US$3.7mn lithium battery plant, in addition to plans to invest US$400mn in the El Mutún iron and steel project.

Morales, who has seized operations from companies including Glencore, Jindal Steel & Power and South American Silver since taking office in 2006, has built up state mining company Comibol and pushed through a new mining code which seeks to assert state control over future mining contracts.

The country's metals export revenue rose 20% to US$1.939bn in the first half as rising shipments offset declining metals prices, according to the Bolivian foreign trade institute. Metals shipments rose 5% in volume to 651,600t from 620,500t in the first half of 2013.

Bolivia boosted metals exports 40% to US$2.8bn in 2013, according to the mining ministry. The country, which is home to mines operated by Pan American Silver, Sumitomo, Coeur Mining, Orvana Minerals and Franklin Mining, produced 11,400t tin, 430,000t zinc and 39.7Moz silver in 2012, according to industry associations.