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Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook area reports: international 1972
Year 1972, Volume 3 (1972)

Cammarota, V. Anthony, Jr.
Bolivia,   pp. 147-154 PDF (885.4 KB)


Page 151

 THE MINERAL INDUSTRY OF BOLIVIA 151 
Table 3.—Bolivia: Imports of mineral commodities—Continued 
(Metric tons unless otherwise specified) 
Commodity - 1968 1969 
MINERAL FUELS AND RELATED MATERIALS—Continued 
Petroleum: 
 Crude oil thousand 42-gallon barrels.... (1) (1) 
Refinery products: 
 Gasoline do........ 132 116 
 Lubricants do........ 6 7 
 Other do........ 31 13 
 Total do......_ 169 136 
1 Less than 3/2 unit. 
COMMODITY REVIEW 
METALS 
 Bismuth.—In May COMIBOL inaugurated its new -bismuth smelter, which
was built at Telamayu *by the Belgian firm Poudriere Reunione Belgique. The
smelter, with monthly input capaci-ty of 400 to 500 tons of bismuth concentrate
averaging 
13% to 15% bismuth and 8% to 10% copper, will be able to produce 60 to 70
tons of 99.995% metallic -bismuth -in 1974. In its first 6 months of operation,
the smelter produced 239 tons of 92% to 94% bismuth, 13,035 troy ounces of
silver, and 156 troy ounces of gold. Its operating costs averaged $2.55 per
pound of bismuth produced. Blister copper and calcium arsenate are byproducts.
 Iron Ore.—COMIBOL operated the 50ton-per-hour beneficiation plant
at the Mutdn iron ore deposit in preparation for a 50,000-ton shipment of
concentrate to Argentina beginning in January 1973. A feasibility study of
the Mutdn iron ore deposit was completed by Arthur D. Little, Inc. The -report
covered proposals to install a sponge iron and an iron oxide pellet plant
at Mutdn. The study included a detailed analysis of the market for sponge
iron, a basic evaluation of the Mutdn deposit, an estimate of the total investment
required for establishing a pellet plant and a sponge iron plant, and an
evaluation of the economic impact of an iron industry on -the national economy.
A direct-reduction process would be employed. The report sugested the construction
of a natural gas pipeline from the Santa Crux gasfields to Mutdn. 
Representatives of -the Belgian firm Sybetre visited Bolivia and expressed
great interest in the development of the Mutdn deposit. 
 Tin.—Of the 31,056 long -tons of tin-inconcentrates produced in 1972,
COMIBOL contributed 21,246 long tons, the medium miners contributed 5,832
long -tons, and the small miners contri-buted 3,978 long tons. COM-IBOL's
marketable tin output, up 6.3% from that of 1971, originated mostly from
ore containing 0.76% tin, but also included purchases from independent small
miners and from lessees and cooperative organizations working COMIBOL's small
' mines, and tin as a volatilization product from several plants. COMIBOL's
costs to produce and market tin continued to rise, reaching $1.61 per pound
in 1972 compared with $' l.58 in 1971 and $1.50 in 1970. After the Bolivian
currency devalution of October 27, 1972, -the costs in November and December
decreased to $1.37 and $1.30, respectively. However, the new 20% tax on the
value of exported tin imposed at the time of devaluation added 19 cents to
the costs. The most important COMIBOL mine, Siglo XX, which produced about
32% of COMIBOL's tin output, reportedly is running out of low-grade tin mineralized
ore, which it mines by block caving methods. This mine's largest tin reserve
exists in its mill tailings. CornIBOL estimated its ore reserves at about
300,000 long tons of contained tin as of January 1, 1972. These reserves
do not include alluvial deposits or tailings and dump materials that may
be processed in the future. 
 Representatives from Klockner-Humboldt-Deutz of West Germany and ENAF discussed
plans to increase the capacity of the Vinto smelter from 7,400 long tons
to 19,700 long tons, but no final decision was reached. ENAF has operated
the plant for 2 years -but has not overcome the problem of low tin recovery.
In addition to ENAF's 


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