One April 30th, the Bolivian Government revoked the concession held by a group of United States firms to manage and exploit the huge Mina Matilde zinc mine about 150 kilometres (100 miles) from La Paz.
One April 30th, the Bolivian Government revoked the concession held by a group of United States firms to manage and exploit the huge Mina Matilde zinc mine about 150 kilometres (100 miles) from La Paz. On Tuesday, May 5, the Army moved in to control the nationalization of the mine. It was the Government's first major move against a U.S.-controlled company since the 1969 nationalization of the Bolivian Gulf Oil Company.
The Matilde mine has had a long and fluctuating history. It was originally formed and owned by the private Hoschild group, then in April 1952, the Government passed a mine nationalisation bill which handed over control of the Matilde to the Corporacion Minera de Bolivia (COMIBOL) - the Bolivian Mining Corporation. In 1961 COMIBOL offered a concession on the mine and several tenders were received. Then, after deliberations with the mine's Board of Directors, the workers' control groups and the Government, the concession was granted in 1965 to the consortium formed by Philips Brothers United steel, the U.S. Chemical Corporation and several banks.
A twenty-year contract was signed in january, 1966, but since then Bolivia has moved increasingly to the Left - and a takeover of the Matilde was being demanded by leftwing and Nationalist worker groups Now it is once against to revert to COMIBOL.
In addition to zinc, the Matilde produces lead and silver - and, at current price estimates, its total reserves are said to be worth about 200 million dollars (83 million pounds sterling). Its average monthly output is 6,000 tons of zinc and 320 tons of lead. In the whole complex there are 690 employees of which 300 are miners.