Bolivia to consider nationalizing embattled silver project

Sun Jul 8, 2012 11:08pm EDT

* Protesters oppose Canadian firm's concession

* Morales says hasn't made a final decision

LA PAZ, July 8 (Reuters) - Bolivia will consider nationalizing Canadian miner South American Silver Corp's silver property, President Evo Morales said on Sunday, following violent indigenous protests against the mining project.

Leftist Morales, who last month took control of global commodities giant Glencore's tin and zinc mine in the Andean country, said he hadn't taken a final decision on whether to revoke the Canadian miner's concession.

"Nationalization is our obligation, I already raised the issue of nationalizing (the Malku Khota project) last year, and I told (local residents) to reach an agreement, because when they want we're going to nationalize," Morales told a farmers' gathering.

Exploration work, in which South American Silver plans to invest some $50 million, is expected to end within three years. The company describes it as "one of the world's largest undeveloped silver, indium and gallium deposits."

A Bolivian man died and at least four others were hurt as protesters occupied the property, local media reported on Friday. An increase in social unrest and anti-government protests are testing Morales, the country's first leader of indigenous descent.

Mining is also coming under fire in neighboring Chile and Peru, where many citizens feel they haven't profited from a metals-led economic boom.

HOSTAGES RELEASED

Bolivian peasant farmers over the weekend released five local South American Silver workers, who had been held to demand the company leave.

Three of the hostages were freed on Saturday in a police operation and the other two were released on Sunday afternoon, sources said. A police officer held hostage since Thursday was also freed.

"There are no more hostages in Malku Khota, the last liberations happened due to negotiations," deputy interior minister Jorge Perez told state television.

The Erbol radio network said the engineers freed on Sunday were "accused of spying and violating traditions or customs of the (local) peoples during an indigenous hearing." They were ordered to complete "a community punishment" of making 1,000 adobe bricks in under 30 days, the network said.

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Comments (1)
moralist1 wrote:
Another example of the greed of socialist leaders in action. The indigenous people can only lead better and more fruitful and caring lives based on economic development and it is the duty of the leadership to provide this vision.Problem is the socialist mind lacks the capacity to understand how economic development is achieved.

Some 11.5% of world GDP is mining driven; 21% if you include mining services, more if fuel and solvents are added into the equation (miningmx.com report).

The tax increases envisioned by socialist Third World governments and nationalization of the mining industry in the Third World has yet to show any benefits to the local people. Add to this the uneducated nature of the local people being fueled by NGO’s who live comfortable lives in the West and we have a bizarre situation of emotion ruling over the development of mining activities in the Third World.

Too bad for them since countries like China and India will advance by providing their people with a better life while these countries continue to let their people live in poverty.

Jul 09, 2012 3:15pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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