SHANGHAI, Jan. 22 -- Production by Empresa Metalurgica Vinto (EMV), Bolivia's state-owned tin smelter, increased by 24% to 11,805 tonnes in 2009. This is the highest annual production figure achieved at the plant since the late 1990s.
EMV was re-nationalised in February 2007 after seven years in private ownership, firstly by Allied Deals and subsequently Glencore. In the immediate aftermath of the re-nationalisation output dropped to some 9,500 tpy, but a strong revival began last year. The recovery followed the refurbishment of idled furnace capacity and a growth in concentrate supply from the Huanuni mine.
Last year's production was the highest since 1997, at a time when ore supplies were boosted by the toll treatment of concentrates from Minsur's San Rafael mine in Peru. The smelter's all-time record level of production, at 19,959 tonnes, was reached in 1994. EMV will be installing a new Ausmelt plant in the next two years with a capacity to produce some 18,000 tpy of tin metal, although it will be a major challenge to obtain sufficient ore to operate at full capacity.