An Editorial from El Diario:
The exploitation of non-renewable resources
A picture of mining, hydrocarbons and “industrialization” shows no results as positive as we would like, so the bonanza disseminated by government spokesmen would be in question. In connection with tin – traditional source of income of the country things are not going well. Huanuni tin mine, the most important of the country, is facing the withdrawal from the market by the fall in China’s economy. Even if the demand for this power were normal, Huanuni production could not satisfy.
This mine of great potential recorded high production costs, starting monthly salary of Bs30,000 and more than 4,560 workers, although it is believed to be 6,000 employees. The Government has directed that the BCB to provide a trust to that mine of $56 million dollars, without explaining its real purpose, and hopes to raise from 800 to 1,000 tons per month at present, to 3,000 tons by building a new mill. This high number of labor can only be explained by the absorption of thousands of cooperatives that sought exploitation.
Gold has no control and is exported as “waste”. It was alleged that a company which exported $260 million dollars, paid for taxes the laughable sum of Bs1,900. The authorities did not heed the complaint. Gold mining, almost entirely, in the hands of cooperatives operating under the simplified scheme. They do not fulfill any formality, nor have a known address. [let alone the huge environmental damage they cause as they do not obey existing laws]
The liquid separation plant in Rio Grande, made at tripling of the original cost price, ended up costing $184 million, but after all serves to prevent the free export of other gas components elements. The president recently announced an investment of $1,800 million dollars in petrochemical plants in Tarija. He said the project is under a “conceptual engineering study.” For connoisseurs it should start by analyzing the plastics market, which is what is to be produced in such plants. They add that the demand for plastic material is saturated on the planet and that the technology required is complex, it is advisable to seek entrepreneurial association to avoid mishaps.
Seduction does not succeed at first sight. The world of business – like the hydrocarbon derivatives – is fertile ground for the hunting of the unwary. The intention may be good, but the business and the technique are based on certain knowledge and not even in probabilities. Here as an example the “white elephant” of Karachipampa and others.
The national priority is heading in the hydrocarbon exploration and drilling of new areas, and the same applies to mining. It is not with low investment that objectives are achieved. YPFB announced that in the department of La Paz this year will be invested $47.6 million dollars to explore Liquimuni fields, from a total insufficient of $131 million already inherent in the old project.
One thing worth remembering is that Bolivia should not, repeat should not go inside our National Parks. Places where unfortunately there are some earlier studies that suggest there are hydrocarbons. Bolivia needs to remember one of the principal enunciates of Environmental Economics: to internalize the externalities to protect our environment and be sustainable for future generations to come. Thus, it is better to NOT engage in any extraction activity of natural resources inside OUR National Protected Areas.