Bolivia loses money when exporting minerals: Indium, antimony, niobium, bismuth and tantalum

ERBOL reports:

We are the second largest producer , we noted Zapata

Bolivia loses $140 million dollars per year by not taxing the Indium

2014-05-22 07.35.19 amThe head of the research department and social interaction of the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA) and Professor of the Faculty of Chemistry, Justo Zapata said that Bolivia lost about 140 million dollars a year out of the undeclared export of  Indium, that goes out the country in zinc concentrates.

“The Indium was not on the mining legislation, no royalties are paid by the Indium, no statistics on this, but however, we are the second producers in the world. What happens is that the minerals out of Bolivia to be processed and that the Indium is obtained and the ore is awarded to Bolivia,”said the expert at the VII Chair Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz, organized by the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés.

Zapata said that Bolivia produces annually about 200 tons of ore having a technological marketing price in the world market of $700 a kilo. “We are talking about 140 million dollars a year that we’re giving away,” he said .

The Indium was used during WWII as a coating in high-performance aircraft engines. Then it was devoted to new applications in alloys, welding and the electronics industry.

In the late 1980s, the use aroused interest in indium phosphide and semiconductor thin films of indium tin oxide for the development of liquid crystal displays (LCD). This is because that use of indium allowed obtaining blue color LEDs, which had stood for years.

“That means that the Indium will be worth much more than silver, and indium can be found in concentrates of zinc, the major export of Bolivia,” said the researcher.

In order not to lose revenue, Zapata said, all we have to do is have the government make a “simple recognition analysis of mineral” in zinc concentrates and ask exporters an additional payment for it.

“For this we do not need large investments in technology and operating expenses, only a simple analysis. It happens that the Indium is more precious than silver and we are not aware of that. We’re second Indium producers after China and do nothing,” he said.

According to the information from the Export Unit of the Ministry of Mining, by the CEDIB (Documentation and Information Center of Bolivia), 100 percent of the sale of zinc is in concentrates.

The total mineral exports in year 2013, according to the National Statistics Institute (INE) was $3,038 million dollars.

The silver in metal and concentrate, ranks first in exports with $448 million, followed by zinc with $372 million, and waste and scrap gold with $206 million.

Bolivian minerals are mainly destined to the United States ($513 million), South Korea ($236 million), Japan ($209 million) and China ($150 million).

Other minerals not rated

Bolivia is the second largest producer of antimony after China, a situation which is not recognized by the Bolivian authorities, said Zapata. “This was expressed that currently sell for about $10 a kilo of antimony when it should be around $100 per kilo, then it is another metal that we gave no value and we’re giving them away,” he said.

Similar situation, he said, does the niobium, bismuth and tantalum, which “is coming mainly from the Precambrian deposits without our knowledge.” “It’s just a matter of paying us for what they are taking,” he reiterated.

On bismuth

“We are the only country that has the bismuth mine in the world, what happens is that we are not giving us the means to recognize the importance of certain elements in our mining,” said the specialist. (AC )

It is crystal clear, I just wish there would be more Bolivian professionals like Justo Zapata. Kudos to him and welcome to The Hall of Bolivian Fame!

Published by Bolivian Thoughts

Senior managerial experience on sustainable development projects.

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