Daily Archives: February 10, 2012

In Bolivia, higher mineral prices lead to more illegal and violent take overs

A sad reality in the Bolivia “of the change process,” instead of taking advantage of the extraordinary high prices in the international markets for our raw materials, Bolivia shows little security to private investment and what is worst, has generated anarchical reactions on communities nationwide, Walter Vasquez reports for La Razon:

According to data from the Vice-Ministry of mining cooperatives, in the previous year the number of mining conflicts (illegal take overs) reached 58 (37 in La Paz, eight in Potosí, six in Oruro, three in Santa Cruz, three in Cochabamba and one in Pando). [The chart to the right shows silver and gold daily prices for February 2011 and 2012]

“The illegal take overs have grown stronger since 2010, reaching 38 or 40 due to the high prices of minerals (…).” “58 Conflicts happened in 2011-almost 50% have been generated between herders and cooperatives, 30% only between cooperatives and the rest between cooperatives and private mining companies”, revealed yesterday the Deputy Minister for mining cooperatives, Isaac Meneses. The last two years, the price of minerals broke several records, being the troy ounce of gold and silver to overcome the barrier of $1,800 and $40, respectively; Tin surpassed $15 per pound fine and lead and silver $10.

This situation “…has generated enough people to be devoted to do mining and has caused greed that led to take overs of those (mining projects) with good production and because of the prospect to have good revenue (…).” “This year there has been a slight decline in prices (see graphics above), although they still create enough expectations to continue mining operations”, explained Meneses.

To prevent the illegal taking of mines, said Meneses, it is necessary to have a good relationship with the communities living near the area of influence of the mining project, and to ensure that they benefit from it through the construction of roads, the job offer and demand for services of the miners. [this can be interpreted from blunt blackmail to corporate social responsibility; passing from pernicious bribes, to misunderstood philanthropy and environmentally sound projects. Thus, it is a very complicated issue but it does not have to be an excuse to break laws and take overs who are illegal and damaging to any democracy, ownership and freedom]

On 5 January, the President of the Corporación Minera of Bolivia (Comibol), Héctor Córdova, announced that the new Mining Act will cover “explicit” measures against take overs of mining projects which are politically driven.

“Public interest projects are priority: a person may not oppose the collective interest.” The mining law should be explicit on this point (the take overs) for which the mining operator are given assurance for their operation and that the owner of the territory has clear rules. “There are several proposals”, he commented. This problem, added Córdova, arises as a result of the lack of infrastructure and services for the population in the regions where “rich” mineral deposits are located. [here again we end up in the easy and irresponsible manner to ask/demand the private company to pay/give services that were not provided in the Inca’s empire, colonial times, the Republic and now under the new pluri-national state; everybody asks, everybody demands without paying taxes, without respecting private property; all of which results in an ideal political dream, blame others, give promises while others get to pay for it…]

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