* Dispute costing mine $250,000 a day in lost production
* Mine's 2012 tin concentrates production seen at 3,000
LA PAZ, Sept 13 A two-week labor dispute between
rival workers at Bolivia's second-biggest tin mine has cost the
recently nationalized operation almost $4 million in production
losses, the government said on Thursday.
Bolivia's leftist government, headed by President Evo
Morales, took over operations at the Colquiri mine in June after
weeks of violent protests. The takeover drew an angry response
from its former owner, global commodities trader Glencore
State mining company Comibol, which has been running the
mine since it was returned to state control, said the conflict
between public sector miners and independent miners could end up
affecting production at the Vinto smelter.
Vinto buys almost all its tin concentrate from Colquiri,
where zinc is also mined.
"We're losing more than $250,000 per day through lost
production and this has been going on for two weeks. That means
an accumulated loss of almost $4 million," Comibol President
Hector Cordova told Reuters.
The conflict that prompted Morales' administration to seize
control of the mine three months ago flared up again at the
start of September.
Miners, who remain at odds over who has the right to exploit
the richest part of the mine's resources, have been blocking
highways and staging protests since Sept. 1, paralyzing
Under the decree that rescinded Glencore's contract, an
independent cooperative that had mined one area of the site was
allowed to continue working there.
Cordova said Colquiri should produce about 3,000 tonnes of
tin concentrates this year, representing about 15 percent of
estimated national output of some 21,000 tonnes. Most of the
rest of Bolivia's tin is produced at the state-run Huanuni mine.
Mining is Bolivia's second-biggest foreign currency earner
after natural gas; its most important metals export is silver,
followed by zinc and tin.
Colquiri's unionized mine workers accused the independent
miners of violating the terms of the state takeover, which was
agreed by both sides, and called for them to be barred from the
(Reporting by Carlos Quiroga; Writing by Helen Popper; Editing
by Leslie Adler)