Glencore Seeks Bolivia Compensation After Mine Nationalization

  • Bolivia nationalized tin smelter in 2007; zinc mine in 2012
  • Glencore has been negotiating compensation for nine years

Glencore Plc, the Swiss miner and commodities trader headed by billionaire Ivan Glasenberg, has started arbitration proceedings against Bolivia after three of its operations were nationalized by the country, the first in 2007.

The company has tried “to settle the dispute with the government of Bolivia amicably,” it said in an e-mailed statement. “However, after almost nine years of negotiations without receiving any compensation for the nationalization of three of its operations, Glencore had no other option but to initiate arbitration proceedings to enforce its rights under international law.”

Bolivia nationalized the Vinto tin smelter in 2007 and the Colquiri zinc and lead mine was handed to state mining company Comibol in 2012. The government also seized the Vinto antimony operation. President Evo Morales has raised taxes and seized mines, oil refineries and power companies since taking power in 2006.

When Colquiri was seized four years ago, Glencore said it was completing the renegotiation of its mining contracts with the government. The mine was sold by the government in 2002 and Glencore acquired it from former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada in 2005.

After revoking Glencore’s license in June 2012, Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera told state-run Radio Patria Nueva the government wasn’t “going to hand our country to foreigners who destroyed Bolivia and left it stagnating for 20 years.”

Glencore still owns the Sinchi Wayra zinc and tin mine in Bolivia, according to its website.

“Glencore has and continues to make substantial contributions to Bolivia and its people,” the company said in the statement. By the end of last year, it had paid total royalties, taxes and fees of $380 million to the country and invested $290 million in the country’s mining industry, the producer said.

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