Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook area reports: international 1978-79
Year 1978-79, Volume 3 (1978-1979)
Bolivia, pp. 149-159 ff.
149The Mineral Industry of Bolivia By Orlando Martino1 The downtrend in the rate of economic growth experienced by Bolivia in 1977 continued in 1978 and 1979, which had growth rates of 3.1% and 2.0%, respectively, compared with the high rate of 6.4% in 1976. The performance of the economy has fallen below the 7% growth rate targeted in the 5year development plan that ends in 1980. The gross domestic product (GDP) grew to the equivalent2 of $4.2 billion in current dollars in 1978 and to $4.9 billion in 1979. Bolivia's mining industry contributed 7.1% of the country's GDP in 1978; its share has been declining since 1970 when the contribution was 9.2%. In 1978, the mining sector's contributions represented 23% of the Government's revenues. Bolivia's economy remained dominated by its exportoriented mineral industry, which was responsible for over 70% of the country's foreign exchange earnings. Bolivia's mineral production and exports continued to decline in most cases in 1978 and 1979, but rising world prices especially in silver and tin offset decreased output. The value of exports of mineral commodities, not including petroleum and natural gas, increased 5% in 1978 to $516 million and 9% in 1979 to $565 million. Bolivia exported gasoline in 1979 but ceased to export crude petroleum in late 1978 because of domestic needs. As a result, the value of petroleum exports continued to decline, decreasing 37% in 1978 and 13% in 1979. In 1978, a major milestone was reached in Bolivia's mineral history when more than 50% of the country's tin production was processed into refmed tin. Since the revolution of the early 1950's, Bolivia had sought to install and expand its tin smelter capaci ty in order to gain the economic benefits of exporting refined tin instead of only tin ore and concentrate. In 1978, the Empresa Nacional de Fundiciones (ENAF), the major State-owned smelter, produced almost 16,000 tons of refined tin compared with 6,800 tons in 1971, its first year of operation. In late 1979, Bolivia and the World Bank were in consultation regarding a multiyear assistance program. The proposed program would provide financing for the state mining company, CorporacIon Minera de Bolivia (COMIBOL), for mineral exploration and new mining equipment to improve productivity. The state petroleum company, Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB), would receive financing for exploration and oilfield development as well as for the proposed natural gas pipeline between Bolivia and Brazil, provided that studies confirm the existence of adequate gas reserves. Productivity of Bolivia's mineral industries has been hampered by the lack of investment by COMIBOL and the private mining companies in exploration to provide against the declining grade in ore deposits. To help solve this problem, the International Development Association (IDA)—the World Bank's affiliate for concessionary lending—approved a $7.5 million credit to provide financial, management, and technical support to the Fondo Nacional de Exploracion Minera (FNEM) established in 1977. The credit will assist the operations program of the exploration fund for the period 1979-82, estimated to cost $17 million. FNEM will initially concentrate on financing exploration projects of privately owned small and medium mining enter-
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