November 5, 2020: The 40,000 tonnes a year Karachipampa zinc-lead-silver smelter in Bolivia is to be upgraded after being operated by state mining firm Comibol at just 10% of capacity for the past year, the country’s mining ministry said on October 28.
Energy and commodities news agency S&P Global Platts said the underperformance had been due to a faulty blast furnace, and local contractor firm Kimmaera had been hired to bring it back online.
Five investor groups have already signalled their interest in participating in mining projects across the country.
Lead concentrates production fell by half in September, Platts reported, along with zinc, tin and copper, after a two-month lockdown due to the virus.
Bolivia is ranked 18th in the world in terms of lead production, producing around 88,000 tonnes in 2019, according to data firm CEIC.
This was a decrease over 2018, which was recorded at 112,000 tonnes, although that figure was an all-time high.
Just two weeks ago a socialist government led by Luis Arce was elected on October 23. He has promised to rebuild the country after a year of political turmoil capped by this year’s pandemic.