Nationalizing Canadian Mining in Bolivia


The Canadian mining company South American Silver has spent millions on the Malku Khota mine in Bolivia's highlands. It believes it can extract more than 350 thousand kilograms of silver from the mine each year, and a significant quantity of indium, a rare, malleable metal that's increased exponentially in value over just the last few years because it's a crucial element in mobile phone and tablet touchscreens. Now, the company's $16 million investment and the tantalizing returns on it are both in danger.

Today's guest host was Mike Finnerty.

Part One of The Current


It's Thursday, July 12.

U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney told members of the NAACP that if they want a president who will make things better for the African American community, "you're looking at him."

Romney later apologised and explained he thought he was speaking to members of the "affluent-American community."

This is The Current.

Nationalizing Canadian Mining in Bolivia

Now, South American Silver's 16-million-dollar investment and the tantalising returns on it are both in danger. This week, Bolivian President Evo Morales cancelled the company's concession, effectively nationalizing the operation.

The decision to nationalize came following violent protests at the mine site and the taking of employee hostages, all of whom were eventually released. It also comes in the wake of two other high-profile expropriations. In May, the Bolivian Government nationalized the assets of a Spanish utility company and a Swiss resource company.

Greg Johnson is the President and Chief Executive Officer of South American Silver Corporation. He was in Vancouver.

No one from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade was available to speak with us this morning, but International Trade Minister Ed Fast's office did say that the Minister has written to the Bolivian Government to express "deep concern," and that its actions "would send a negative signal to Canadian and foreign investors."

His office also says that Canadian officials expect to meet with the Bolivian government later today in La Paz.

We also spoke with Bolivia's ambassador to the United Nations, Rafael Archondo.

This segment was produced by The Current's Pedro Sanchez, Gord Westmacott and Jenna Cameron.

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