LA PAZ – Bolivia’s Karachipampa smelter, which began producing lead blocks a month and a half ago, has started churning out the country’s first silver ingots, the Mining Ministry said.
President Evo Morales attended Friday’s inauguration ceremony at the complex in the Andean region of Potosi.
In September, state-owned Corporacion Minera de Bolivia put Karachipampa in operation for the first time since it was built nearly 30 years ago.
Although the production will be for export, the first ingots, which were smelted in a Kivcet furnace after some technical glitches were overcome, will be deposited in the National Mint of Bolivia in the southern city of Potosi.
“After so many years of looting, plundering of silver, today we’re smelting and delivering the first ingots to Potosi province and to Bolivia,” Morales, the first indigenous president in the history of the Indian-majority Andean nation, said in a speech Friday.
Potosi is home to the emblematic Cerro Rico mine, where silver and other minerals have been extracted continuously from the colonial era to the present.
The Karachipampa smelter, which has the capacity to treat 51,000 tons of minerals annually, was built in 1985.