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Bolivia's Comibol reaches wage accord with zinc-tin miners: mining minister

Lima — Bolivia's state mining company Comibol has reached a labor agreement with workers at its Colquiri zinc-tin mine, mining minister Cesar Navarro said Thursday.

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Colquiri's workers will receive a 5% salary increase this year, while Comibol is studying a similar wage increase for employees at its Huanuni tin mine, Navarro said in a statement.

Colquiri produced 4,230 mt of tin and 15,700 mt zinc in 2015, according to the latest figures available from Comibol. Huanuni, which brought online an expansion that doubled capacity at its concentrator plant to 3,000 mt/d last year, produced 8,438 mt of tin in 2015.



Bolivia's 80,000-strong mining workforce was the driving force behind nationwide protests against President Evo Morales' government that left at least six dead in 2016.

The Andean country increased mining export revenue by 9% year-on-year to $1.9 billion last year as metals prices rebounded. Zinc exports rose 13.5% to $982.7 million in 2016, while refined tin gained 15.8% to $295.2 million, according to the National Statistics Institute.

In other mining news, Comibol plans to hold talks in the third quarter with local government officials and geological service Sergeomin to study financing for the Pacocahua and Negrillos mining projects and a gold refinery in the southwestern highland Oruro department, Navarro said.

The Pacocahua property, which Navarro compared in size to Sumitomo's San Cristobal zinc mine, has resources of 62.4 million mt grading 0.05% zinc, 0.06% lead and 51 g/t gallium, while Negrillos has 2.2 million mt grading 0.5% lead, 1.27 g/t silver and 1.2% manganese, according to Comibol's 2015 report.

"Pacocahua could be even bigger than San Cristobal, which is a world-class deposit which can process 50,000 t/d," Navarro said in the statement. "Pacocahua could be a project in the same class in Oruro."

President Morales in 2015 pledged to invest $2 billion through 2020 in mining and refining projects to increase the landlocked country's metals exports.

--Alex Emery, newsdesk@spglobal.com

--Edited by Alisdair Bowles, alisdair.bowles@spglobal.com