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Bolivia Protesters Seize San Cristobal Mine Power

Sumitomo Corp.’s San Cristobal zinc, silver and lead mine is being threatened by protesters who say they will cut the plant’s power in southwestern Bolivia.

Production at the mine is halted today for regularly scheduled maintenance, a press official who declined to be identified because of company policy, said in a telephone interview from La Paz.

The facility in the southwestern region of Potosi produces an estimated 1,300 metric tons of zinc-silver ore and 300 tons of lead-silver ore a day, according to Koji Furui, the Tokyo- based company’s spokesman. Each day the mine doesn’t operate $2 million in exports are lost, Bolivia’s Mining Minister Jose Pimentel has told Radio Fides.

Pimentel earlier today said production at San Cristobal was “paralyzed” because of regional protests, Radio Fides reported.

Sumitomo took over full ownership of the mine last year after partner Apex Silver Mines Ltd. filed for bankruptcy. According to Sumitomo’s website, the San Cristobal mine is the world’s sixth-largest producer of zinc and the third-biggest in silver.

Protesters have been blocking major roads in the Potosi region since July 29 amid a border dispute with neighboring Oruro over a limestone deposit and construction of an international airport.

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