Overseas Private Investment Corporation (Opic) has approved up to US$135mn political risk insurance for a silver and tin mining project in Bolivia that stands to make an important contribution to one of the least-developed economies in Latin America.

Opic will provide the insurance to Coeur d ‘Alene Mines Corporation of Idaho, the largest primary silver producer in North America, for the construction and operation of a modern silver and tin mining operation near the historic mining city of Potos­ in Bolivia. Coeur will process the silver ore on site, then ship silver bars to dealers in the US and worldwide for final refining and sale.

Once underway, it is estimated that the mine will produce an average of 6mn ounces of refined silver per year. The deposit also contains an estimated 30-50mn pounds of tin which may be processed during the life of the mine.

The project will also establish a foundation, called Fundespo, to assist in the development of the silversmith, industrial and tourism industries in Potos­.
Opic President and CEO Peter Watson says the project will reduce unemployment among the economically active population in Potos­ by 23%, generating over 500 local jobs during construction, as well as 370 permanent local jobs.

“This project will bring many important developmental benefits to the Bolivia economy: it will generate jobs in a vital sector of the Bolivian economy, substantial income both locally and nationally, and will establish a foundation to institutionalise its gains for the local community,” Watson adds. “The Bolivian government has worked hard to welcome foreign involvement to its key sectors, and this project is an impressive result.”