Official statistics from the Bolivian Ministry of Minerals and Metals reveal that while drought and delayed investment have impacted mined tin output, which fell 13.3% year-on-year to 17,460 t in 2016, refined tin production rose 8.7% to 16,810 t over the same period as more material was processed in-country.
The data reveals that tin mine output by state companies fell by 16.5% to 10,692 t and from co-operatives fell by 20.1% to 2,579 t in 2016, while production from private mines rose by 2.1% to 4,190 t. Officially reported refined tin production by the state-owned tin smelter, Vinto, rose 8.2% to 13,032 t in 2016, with the remainder produced by the private smelter, OMSA.
Total exports were reported as 16,675 t of refined tin and 469 t of tin concentrate (gross weight). In 2016, the USA remained the top destination for Bolivian tin exports with shipments totalling 8,253 t, with China second at 4,255 t and the EU third at 2,872 t.
ITRI View: “Falling co-operative production in the La Paz department and lower production by the state-owned Huanuni tin mine near Oruro are mostly responsible for the lower production total, with output affected by Bolivia’s worst drought in 25 years. The impact has been compounded at Huanuni by ongoing reliance and underinvestment in Huanuni’s ageing Santa Elena ore dressing plant. Production may well see a short-term recovery in 2017, but medium-term prospects for Bolivian tin production will largely depend on successful implementation of maintenance and expansion projects at Bolivia’s state-owned mine operations.”