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Glencore to sell Bolivian zinc mines to Santacruz Silver Mining; to leave Bolivia

Highlights

Canada's Santacruz Silver to buy Sinchi Wayra, Illapa stakes

Glencore to receive $110 million plus 1.5% NSR

Glencore plans to sell its Bolivian zinc mines to Santacruz Silver Mining, the mining company and trade said Oct. 12, joining the exodus of major miners from Bolivia.

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Glencore has filed for arbitration against Bolivia for the 2007 nationalization of its Vinto tin smelter and Colquiri zinc-tin mines. It joins Coeur Mining, Jindal Steel, Quiborax and Orvana Minerals in leaving Bolivia in recent years.

Vancouver-based Santacruz Silver Mining will pay $110 million plus a 1.5% net smelter royalty for Glenncore's wholly owned Sinchi Wayra unit and its 45% stake in the Illapa operation, the latter a joint venture with state mining company Comibol, Glencore said in a statement.

BMO Capital Markets acted as financial advisor in the deal, whereby Santacruz will make the payment over a four-year period, Glencore said.

Glencore announced the sale of its assets after initiating $676 million arbitration proceedings in 2019 against the Bolivian government for the expropriations of its Vinto tin smelter in 2007 and Colquiri zinc mine in 2012.

Bolivia's leftist government, which has expropriated oilfields, pension funds, telecommunications, electricity and water companies since 2006, has repeatedly threatened to nationalize other mining assets including Sinchi Wayra in recent years.

Neither Glencore nor SantaCruz Silver immediately responded to emails seeking comment. Santacruz closed its high-cost Rosario zinc mine in Mexico last week.

Bolivia's minerals exports doubled to $2.54 billion through the first half of 2021 as Comibol reopened operations and metals prices rose, led by zinc (+81%).