Bolivia is considering revoking Glencore International PLC’s (GLEN.LN) concession to the Colquiri lead and tin mine amid a clash between employees and cooperative miners working at the site, according to local press reports.
Glencore’s Bolivian subsidiary Sinchi Wayra currently holds the concession.
The government will take control of Colquiri this week, and is working to ensure that “it costs the State as little as possible,” Hector Cordova, president of Bolivia state mining company Comibol, was quoted as saying by local media.
About 1,000 cooperative miners seized control of Colquiri at the end of May, demanding they be granted the exclusive right to mine the site, while Sinchi Wayra’s roughly 400 employees are pushing for the government to take it over, Bolivian newspaper Los Tiempos reported.
Glencore has a 100% stake in Sinchi Wayra, which operates five mines in the Oruro and Potosi regions of Bolivia. The company is currently in talks with the Bolivian government to amend Sinchi Wayra’s mining contracts to bring them in line with the country’s new constitution.
In 2009, Bolivia changed its constitution to require miners to form joint ventures with the government.
The company has made progress but it is not clear how and when a deal will be struck, Glencore said in its March earnings report.
Bolivian President Evo Morales has implemented a string of nationalizations since taking office in 2006. During his first year in office, he nationalized natural-gas fields.
Two years ago, the government took over most of the country’s electrical generation capacity by seizing the assets of British company Rurelec PLC (RUR.LN), which is now suing Bolivia in international courts for compensation.
Earlier this year, Morales seized an electrical transmission company from Spain’s Red Electrica Corp. (REE.MC).