The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (Opic) has confirmed its commitment to provide US$54mn in political risk insurance for a mining project in Bolivia that will make an important contribution to one of the least-developed economies in Latin America. Opic’s board of directors approved the project in August 2004.

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 the San Bartolome mine, a modern silver 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. Opic is co-insuring the project with Zurich, which is providing more than US$77mn in political risk insurance.
Once underway, it is estimated that the mine will produce 8.3mn ounces of silver during the first five years of production and an initial estimated mine life of 15 years. The deposit also contains an estimated 30 to 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
“This project will deliver many important developmental benefits to the Bolivia economy: it will generate over 500 jobs during construction, and 370 permanent jobs in a vital sector of the Bolivian economy, substantial income both locally and nationally, and will establish a foundation to institutionalize its gains for the local community,” says Opic president and CEO Peter Watson. “Opic is pleased to work with a US business to contribute to a project so vital to Bolivia’s long-term economic goals.”

“San Bartolome is the largest new primary silver mine built in the Americas in decades, the first modern silver project in Bolivia,” says Dennis Wheeler, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Coeur. “The construction of the mining operation in Potosi not only furthers Coeur’s position as the world’s leading primary silver producer, it will provide a major lift to the local and national economies in Bolivia, and we are pleased to be part of that effort.”