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San Vicente silver mine by Pan American Silver, Bolivia


Description:

[Spanish version: see English version below] La empresa minera Pan American Silver, a través de un acuerdo de riesgo compartido con el gobierno boliviano, opera la mina San Vicente en Bolivia. A lo largo de los años, el porcentaje de la propiedad de la subsidiaria operativa que tiene la compañía Pan American ha cambiado desde su inversión inicial en 1999, alcanzando la propiedad mayoritaria en 2007 (95%). Esto coincidió con la expansión de la mina de una operación a pequeña escala a escala industrial, lo cual comenzó a finales de 2008.

En septiembre de 2012, una parte de la mina fue tomada por miembros de la comunidad campesina y mineros cooperativistas quienes exigieron trabajo [1]. Criticaron a la compañía por haber "racionalizado" al mínimo la fuerza laboral y por no haber beneficiado a las poblaciones locales pobres que necesitaban fuentes de trabajo. 

Desde este entonces, ha habido repetidos incidentes laborales con consecuencias económicas importantes para las operaciones de San Vicente.

El descontento sindical ha variado según el manejo por la empresa de su relación con el liderazgo sindical. En 2014, el sindicato paralizó las operaciones declarando una huelga general cuando les quedó claro que la empresa estaba interviniendo en, y procesando a, dirigentes y trabajadores de la mina [2]. EL sindicato envió una comisión de 100 mineros al capital boliviano de La Paz para exigir que el gerente de la empresa renunciara por "persecución política de los líderes sindicales", "tratando de dividir el liderazgo ", y despidos injustos por haber estado involucrados en una huelga de hambre. La huelga duró 14 días y el conflicto fue mediado por la empresa minera nacional, COMIBOL [3].

En 2017, la lucha sindical volvió a estallar. En enero 2017, el sindicato denunció que seis mineros fueron "despedidos injustamente". La compañía argumentó que los mineros fueron despedidos por consumir bebidas alcohólicas, pero el sindicato negó estas acusaciones, argumentando que la compañía estaba despidiendo trabajadores debido a los bajos precios para la plata [4]. 

Más tarde, en septiembre de 2017, el sindicato declaró un "estado de emergencia" por la reducción en gastos operativos de la empresa, lo cual resultó en una escasez de equipos de seguridad y peores condiciones de trabajo [5]. El sindicato exigió que un representante de la compañía viajara a Bolivia para atender sus demandas.

Ahora que el cierre de la mina se acerca, persiste la probabilidad de futuros conflictos entre el sindicato y la empresa [6].

[English version] 

Pan American Silver, through a Joint Venture agreement with the Bolivian government currently operates the San Vicente mine in Bolivia. The company's ownership of the operating subsidiary has changed over the years. They initially invested in 1999 and took majority ownership in 2007 (95%). This coincided with expansion of the mine from small-scale to industrial scale operations, which began at the end of 2008. 

In September 2012, a portion of the mine was taken over by members of the rural peasant community and small-scale miners who were demanding work [1]. They criticized the company for having reduced the workforce to a minimum and not benefiting impoverished. 

Since then, there have been repeated labour-related incidents at the mine with significant economic consequences for the San Vicente operations. 

Union discontent has wavered depending on how successful the company has been with managing the leadership. In 2014, the union ceased operations and declared a general strike when it became clear that the company was intervening in and unjustly prosecuting union leaders and rank and file workers [2]. The union then sent a commission of 100 miners to the capital city of La Paz to demand the manager quit for "political persecution of union leaders", "trying to divide the leadership", and for dismissing workers for being involved in a hunger-strike. The strike lasted 14 days and the conflict was mediated by the national mining company COMIBOL [3]. 

Union struggles erupted again in January 2017 when the union claimed that six miners were "unjustly fired". The company argued the miners were fired for consuming alcoholic beverages, but the union denied these allegations, arguing that the company was laying off workers due to low silver prices. (4) 

Later, in September 2017, the union declared a "state of emergency" [5] in response to company downsizing which resulted in a dearth of safety equipment and a worsening of working conditions. The union demanded that a representative of the company travel to Bolivia to hear their demands. 

As the mine’s operations come to an end, future conflicts between the union and the company could arise again [6]. 

Basic Data

Name of conflict:San Vicente silver mine by Pan American Silver, Bolivia
Country:Bolivia
State or province:Potosi
Location of conflict:San Vicente, Sur Chichas
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Specific commodities:Lead
Silver
Zinc
Copper
Gold

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Spanish version: San Vicente es una mina subterránea polimetálica de plata que produce un concentrado de plata y plomo y otro de plata y zinc.

El rendimiento de la planta de procesamiento de San Vicente es de 950 t/día y en 2018 la mina produjo (considerando la participación de Pan American del 95%) 3.5 millones de onzas de plata, 0.5 millones de onzas de oro, 7400 toneladas de zinc, 800 toneladas de plomo y 1000 toneladas de cobre.*

En 2018, la mina San Vicente reportó ingresos de $60,5 millones de dólares estadounidenses y ganancias netas de $6,6 millones de dólares estadounidenses.*

El concentrado que se produce en San Vicente se envía a compradores que luego lo exportan desde el puerto de Antofagasta, Chile. Una porción del concentrado de plata se entrega a las instalaciones de la planta de fundición de Altonorte, cerca a Antofagasta, Chil

English version: San Vicente is an underground polymetallic silver mine which produces silver-lead and silver-zinc concentrate.

Pan American silver has been at San Vicente since 1999, and its ownership of the Bolivian subsidiary has changed, consolidating to its present ownership of 95% in 2007.

The mine's mill throughput is 950tn/day and in 2018 the mine produced (PAS's share of 95%) 3.5 million ounces of silver, 0.5 million ounces of gold (byproduct), 7400 tones of zinc, 800 tones of lead, and 1000 tones of copper.

In 2018, San Vicente reported revenues of 60,5 million $US and net earnings of 6,6 million $US.

Concentrate production from San Vicente is sent to buyers who then export the concentrate from port in Antofagasta, Chile. A portion of silver concentrate is delivered to Altonorte smelting facility near Antofagasta, Chile.

Project area:7,020
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:Municipio Atocha (San Vicente Canton n/d): 11,489
Start of the conflict:05/09/2012
Company names or state enterprises:Trafigura Beheer B.V from Netherlands - 5 % of ownership of Bolivian subsidiary operating company
Pan American Silver Corp. (PAS) from Canada - 95% ownership of the Bolivian joint Venture operating company
Pan American Silver Bolivia (PASB ) from Bolivia - Operating Entity
Relevant government actors:-Ministerio de Mineria y Metalurgia, Bolivia
-Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Agua
-Servicio Nacional de Registro y Control de la Comercializacion de los minerales y metales
- Corporacion Minera de Bolivia (COMIBOL)
-
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Centro de Documentacion e Informacion Bolivia (CEDIB), https://cedib.org/
SOPE- Lidema Potosi, https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Community/SOPE-Lidema-Potosi-367487096695544/

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Artisanal miners
Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Trade unions
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Sabotage
Street protest/marches
Strikes
Occupation of buildings/public spaces

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsPotential: Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Other socio-economic impacts, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Potential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Loss of landscape/sense of place

Outcome

Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Corruption
Negotiated alternative solution
Repression
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:2012: It is unclear what terms of agreements were reached. The company insisted that small-scale miners did not invade the company's work areas, but the President of Bolivia's mining company, and PASB's JV partner, said they were small scale miners and community members looking for work areas.
The labour disputes have both concluded with agreements being reached between the company and the union leadership.
2014: Mediated agreement reached.
2017: Company sent commission to the mine from Vancouver. Agreement accorded.
Since the leadership accused the company of intervening in their political processes it is possible that this continues to be a reality with the leadership.

Sources & Materials

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

July 16, 2014. Dhont, A. " Labour dispute at San Vicente mine will test Bolivian government's resolve to improve business environment" , IHS Global Insight Daily Analysis
Source: Factiva Dow Jones News Source.

[3] La Razón: Paran labores en San Vicente y exigen renuncia de su gerente; July 18, 2014
http://www.la-razon.com/economia/Mineria-paran-labores-San_Vicente-renuncia-gerente_0_2090790922.html

Cronica de Conflictos Mineros en Bolivia, CEDIB,
https://cedib.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/cronica-de-conflictos-julio-noviembre.pdf

Sept. 5, 2012 "Cooperativistas mineros avasallan parte de la mina San Vicente en Potosí," La Razon,
http://www.la-razon.com/index.php?_url=%2Feconomia%2FCooperativistas-avasallan-San-Vicente-Potosi_0_1682231808.html

Sept. 14, 2012. "Pan American addresses community concerns at San Vicente" Business News Americas
Source: Factiva Dow Jones News Source.

Sept. 14, 2012. "Pan American addresses community concerns at San Vicente" Business News Americas

January 6, 2017 "Denuncian despidos en mina San Vicente",
http://boliviaminera.blogspot.com/2017/01/denuncian-despidos-en-mina-san-vicente.html

September 14, 2012. "Pan American addresses community concerns at San Vicente" Business News Americas

July 16, 2014 "Press Release: Work stoppage at Pan American Silver's San Vicente mine", Dow Jones Institutional News

July 18, 2014 "Paran labores en San Vicente y exigen renuncia de su gerente", La Razon,

Pan American Silver Website, Operations: San Vicente
panamericansilver.com/operations/south-america/san-vicente/

September 14, 2012. "Pan American addresses community concerns at San Vicente" Business News Americas
Source: Factiva Dow Jones News Source.

July 16, 2014 "Press Release: Work stoppage at Pan American Silver's San Vicente mine", Dow Jones Institutional News
Source: Factiva Dow Jones News Source.

July 16, 2014. Dhont, A. " Labour dispute at San Vicente mine will test Bolivian government's resolve to improve business environment" , IHS Global Insight Daily Analysis

Sept 2, 2017 "Mineros de San Vicente exigen a Pan American Silver resolver demandas ", Agencia Boliviana de Informacion (ABI)
https://mineriabo.blogspot.com/2017/09/acusan-pan-american-silver-de-no.html

[2] La Patria en línea; "Presión a gerente de "San Vicente" sería radicalizada por trabajadores"; julio 2014
http://www.lapatriaenlinea.com/index.php/function.session-start%3Ft=tipnis-marchaindigena-decide-llegar-a-yucumo-y-se-teme-enfrentamientos¬a=82921?t=presion-a-gerente-de-san-vicente-seria-radicalizada-por-trabajadores¬a=189251

[2] La Patria en línea; Presión a gerente de "San Vicente" sería radicalizada por trabajadores; julio 2014
http://www.lapatriaenlinea.com/index.php/function.session-start%3Ft=tipnis-marchaindigena-decide-llegar-a-yucumo-y-se-teme-enfrentamientos¬a=82921?t=presion-a-gerente-de-san-vicente-seria-radicalizada-por-trabajadores¬a=189251

El Diario Nacional; "Denuncian despidos en mina San Vicente"; Enero 2017
https://www.eldiario.net/noticias/2017/2017_01/nt170106/nacional.php?n=28&-denuncian-despidos-en-mina-san-vicente

[1] Crónica de Conflictos Mineros en Bolivia, CEDIB
https://cedib.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/cronica-de-conflictos-julio-noviembre.pdf

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

San Vicente union representatives denounce with their National leadership (FSTMB) the lack of safety conditions in place at the mine.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mldw2WHbrGA

[5] ATB Noticias; Mina San Vicente paralizada por malas condiciones de trabajo en Potosí; Sept.2017
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mldw2WHbrGA

Other comments:All company specific production data, and historic data, comes from their Annual Reports as obtained from sedar.com. https://www.sedar.com/

Meta information

Contributor:Kirsten Francescone, MiningWatch Canada, [email protected]
Last update17/10/2019

Images

 

Cartel de la mina

Source: http://www.wyomingtalesandtrails.com/butch4.html

PAS Bolivia Subsidiary Structure

PAS Bolivia Subsidiary Structure /Estructura Subsidiaria Bolivia