January 18, 2009 / 4:08 PM / in 10 years

Bolivia to invest $40 million in Huanuni tin mine

LA PAZ, Jan 18 (Reuters) - The Bolivian government plans to invest some $40 million to build a mineral crusher that would allow the Huanuni tin mine to double output by 2010, state-run news agency ABI reported late on Saturday.

“Huanuni’s production, as well as the production of other state-run mining projects, will continue, and may increase,” Mining Director Freddy Beltran was quoted as saying.

The leftist government of President Evo Morales will invest $40 million in the crusher, according to ABI.

Bolivia also wants to install a furnace to increase the production capacity of the Vinto tin smelter, the largest in the country, which treats Huanuni ore, Beltran was reported as saying.

Last year, Beltran told Reuters the government was planning to invest some $20 million to double Vinto’s output by 2010, from about 1,000 tonnes.

The Bolivian government seized control of Vinto from Swiss commodity trader Glencore International AG in 2007.

In December, mining Minister Luis Alberto Echazu told local media about government plans to increase the output of Huanuni, the largest tin mine in Bolivia, in 2009 by roughly 50 percent to some 1,500 tonnes a month despite low metal prices.

As mining unions and independent mining groups talk about job cuts in Bolivia due to sagging mineral prices amid the global economic crisis, mining officials have said that the best way to protect jobs is to raise production.

Mining is the second source of foreign revenue for impoverished Bolivia after natural gas and some 60,000 people work in the mining industry.

According to the mining ministry Bolivia exported $1.9 billion worth of minerals in 2008. (Reporting by Eduardo Garcia, editing by Maureen Bavdek)

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